New Hampshire’s Legislative Recount goes to court

A Democratic House candidate is suing over recount results in a race to represent part of Manchester in the New Hampshire legislature.

CONCORD, NH — A dispute over the recount results is heading to court, with the balance of power in the New Hampshire home of 400 yet to be determined.

Early results in Manchester’s Ward 6 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 later said the recount would continue this week because there was a discrepancy between the number of ballots counted during the recount and those counted during a separate examination were counted.

This prompted Mosley and Democratic Senate Chair Donna Soucy to file a lawsuit seeking an emergency dismissal order. They argue that after the recount, Scanlan declared Mosely the official winner and that state law only allows a second recount if an audit reveals a discrepancy of more than 1%, which was not the case here.

“If the defendant is permitted to arbitrarily order a second recount in this case in violation of New Hampshire law, it will undermine the confidence of plaintiffs, candidates and voters that the New Hampshire election will be conducted according to law.” says the lawsuit.

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Colin Booth accused Republicans of trying to “run recount after recount until they get the result they want,” while Republicans accused Democrats of voter suppression. In his response to the lawsuit, Scanlan argued that he ordered a “continuation of the count” and not a “recount” and that the announced vote counts would not be official until all reconciliation efforts were completed.

“The state will state clearly what plaintiffs are seeking, but refuse to say: Plaintiffs want this court to disenfranchise New Hampshire voters in the name of ‘finality’ and ‘fair elections’ to correct an administrative error in a… to maintain recount rather than allow the process to continue to the required end of its constitutional obligation,” he wrote. “An unintentional error … should not spoil the outcome of the democratic process.”

A judge who heard from both sides Monday afternoon did not immediately come to a verdict. The recount is scheduled to continue on Tuesday.

Whatever the outcome, the party that ends up taking control will have a razor-thin margin of maneuver. The first tally after Election Day showed 203 Republican winners and 197 Democrats with more than two dozen recounts, some of which are still ongoing. 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.