Though Adam Hinds has purchased a home outside the district he represents in the state Senate, his “declaration of homestead” in Amherst would not necessarily disqualify him from seeking reelection.
Hinds said June 3 that despite purchasing the $690,000 Amherst home, he and his family plan to continue spending the majority of their time at the Pittsfield apartment he has rented for seven years.
In general, individuals determine their residence by registering to vote in a city or town where they reside, a spokesperson for Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin’s office said June 4. But, any registered voter in that city or town could challenge the registration if there is reasonable evidence that the registration is not legal.
Were a challenge to be lodged, a board — in the case of Pittsfield, the Office of the Registrar of Voters — would hold a hearing and examine evidence from each side. A declaration of homestead at a different residence might be presented as evidence, but, on its own, the declaration would not determine residence where the homestead is declared, the spokesperson said.
If the board determines that someone unlawfully is registered to vote, the individual would be stricken from the voter list, calling into question the individual’s ability to run for office.
While Hinds is not yet a candidate, candidacies also can be challenged before the state’s Ballot Law Commission.
In 2018, a candidate for district attorney in Plymouth County was removed from the ballot after the commission found that he did not live in Plymouth, as he claimed, when registering to vote.
John Bradley Jr., who ultimately lost after running a write-in campaign, lived in Boston when he registered, and while he was in the process of renting an apartment in Plymouth, he had yet to move into or sleep there. One of his opponent’s supporters challenged the candidacy.
In 2002, gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney defeated a challenge to his candidacy. Though Romney had lived for three years in Utah for a temporary position, and had filed taxes for those years with Utah as his primary residence, the commission unanimously ruled that Romney met the constitutional requirement for seven years of residence in Massachusetts before an election.
Hinds said in a statement June 4 that he is considering whether to pursue reelection or to run for a statewide position. His office has not yet considered how residency requirements might affect his ability to run for reelection because he has not decided whether to do so, and an election is more than a year away, a staff member said.