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After second recount, contested House seat returns to Republicans, tipping majority to GOP

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Josh Rogers
/
NHPR
N.H. Secretary of State Dave Scanlan unpacks ballots after a judge allowed a recount in a Manchester House race to continue, Nov. 22, 2022.

A court-ordered recount of a contested race for one of Manchester’s seats at the State House has restored the election night win of Republican incumbent Rep. Larry Gagne.

Gagne’s win gives Republicans a 201-198 edge over Democrats in the House, with one race still tied.

This recount came after Democrats asked a judge to block Secretary of State David Scanlan from recounting 25 ballots that a post-election audit suggested weren’t included in the first recount, completed last week.

Democrats argued that Scanlan lacked the legal authority to launch a second count days after announcing Mosley’s win.

Scanlan said his plan amounted to “continuing” the first recount. But Mosley and Manchester state Sen. Donna Soucy sued Scanlan, arguing he lacked the authority to reopen the recount after announcing that Mosley won the race.

In a nine-page ruling issued Tuesday morning, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius acknowledged that state law supports the Democrats’ position: “A statutory analysis alone requires the court to find in favor of the plaintiffs,” the ruling states.

But Ignatius also cited several New Hampshire Supreme Court rulings to conclude that a full recount of ballots is warranted. Scanlan had proposed recounting the 25 ballots in question, focusing on the two Republicans on the ballot, who both lost votes in the recount.

“A review of the recount tabulation is required to ensure the expressed will of the Manchester Ward 6 voters is heard and the candidate with the most votes is seated as their State Representative,” Ignatius wrote.

In a statement issued before the second recount got underway, Bill Christie, the attorney representing Democrats in the lawsuit, said the party would not challenge the court’s ruling, but said that Ignatius’ ruling determined that the Secretary of State “did not follow New Hampshire law and has no authority to order a second recount.”

Republicans, meanwhile, accused Democrats of trying to subvert the will of voters.

“In an effort to subvert the will of voters, New Hampshire Democrat leaders engaged in appalling, hypocritical, and outrageous behavior to prevent all legal votes from being counted," Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement.

Shortly before final results of the recount were announced, Raymond Buckley, chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, took to social media to call for unspecified reforms to the recount process.

“New Hampshire recount laws and procedures need to be scrutinized,” Buckley tweeted. “You can’t have different recount procedures for different candidates.”

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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