Published: 11/23/2022 11:01:35
Modified: 11/23/2022 11:01:25 am
CONCORD — Another round of ballot counting returned a New Hampshire state legislative seat to the GOP on Tuesday, but both the bottom line of that race and broader control of the House of Representatives remained unsettled.
Unofficial post-election tally showed 203 Republican winners and 197 Democrats, but pending recounts could still determine the final balance of power.
In Manchester’s Ward 6, early results showed Republican MP Larry Gagne defeated Democrat Maxine Mosley by 23 votes after a recount last week gave Mosley a one-vote win. Foreign Secretary David Scanlan said the recount will continue this week because of a discrepancy between the number of ballots counted during the recount and those processed during a separate examination.
This prompted Mosley and Democratic Senate Chair Donna Soucy to file a lawsuit seeking an emergency dismissal order. A judge denied her request Tuesday morning, ordering the state to review all votes cast in the race later in the day. The new tally showed the Republican won by 26 votes.
The case will now go to the Electoral Rights Commission, which will meet on Monday.
“The more times these ballots are counted, the more doubts there are about the secretary of state and his process,” said Colin Booth, spokesman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “We look forward to our hearing before the Electoral Law Commission as the next step in ensuring the integrity of this election.”
In her order, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius said Democrats have the law on their side, but “this extraordinary circumstance requires an atypical appeal.”
“Normally the defendant does not retain the power to review a recount of an election. This matter is different from ordinary circumstances,” she wrote.
The judge cited a previous Supreme Court ruling that said the key question was not whether an election official obeyed the law, but “what was the voters’ legally expressed choice?”
“A review of the recount table is required to ensure that the expressed will of Manchester Ward 6 voters is heard and that the candidate with the most votes gets a seat,” Ignatius said.
Scanlan had argued that he had ordered a “continuation of the count” and not a “recount” and that the vote count would not be official until all reconciliation efforts were completed. Democrats said Scanlan declared Mosley the official winner after the recount and that state law only allows a second recount if an audit shows a discrepancy of more than 1%, which was not the case here.
The state-run Republican Party sent out an appeal for donations immediately after the ruling, urging supporters to donate to an “electoral integrity fund so that we may continue to be equipped to address the foreseeable future of disenfranchisement of Democratic voters.”
Control of the House of Representatives has changed in six of the last nine elections, most recently in 2020 when Republicans won a 26-vote majority.