Judge allows legislative recount to proceed in New Hampshire

CONCORD, NH — A New Hampshire judge on Tuesday declined to prevent the secretary of state from reviewing a recount that helped bring the House of 400 closer to an even split.

Unofficial tally after Election Day showed 203 Republican winners and 197 Democrats, but the final balance of power has yet to be determined pending the recount.

In Manchester’s Ward 6, early results showed Republican MP Larry Gagne defeating Democrat Maxine Mosley by 23 votes. A recount last week gave Mosley a one-vote victory, but Secretary of State David Scanlan said the recount will continue this week because there was a discrepancy between the number of ballots counted during the recount and those counted during a separate exam were counted.

This prompted Mosley and Democratic Senate Chair Donna Soucy to file a lawsuit seeking an emergency dismissal order. But a judge denied her request Tuesday morning, ordering the state to review all votes cast in the race later in the day.

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.

Democrats had argued that Scanlan declared Mosley the official winner after the recount and that state law only allows a second recount if an audit shows an error of more than 1%, which was not the case here. Scanlan argued that he 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.

Mosley’s attorney, Bill Christie, said while the judge clarified that his client was right as to the law, “at this point we will proceed with the second recount to ensure all rules are properly followed and poll security is protected.” .”

Colin Booth, spokesman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said he was disappointed with the ruling.

“During this process, we have maintained that New Hampshire’s electoral laws do not allow anyone, whether it be a political party or the secretary of state, to conduct recount after recount until they achieve the desired result,” he said.

The state Republican Party, meanwhile, immediately sent out an appeal for donations, urging its supporters to donate to an “electoral integrity fund so that we may continue to be prepared 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.