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Rochester recount ends in a tie, leaving the balance of power in the N.H. House uncertain

State House hallway.
Dan Tuohy
Republicans hold 200 seats going into the upcoming session and Democrats 199, with one seat undecided.

This story was originally produced by the New Hampshire Bulletin, an independent local newsroom that allows NHPR and other outlets to republish its reporting.

A recount of the Rochester Ward 4 New Hampshire House race resulted in a tie Wednesday, putting an additional Republican seat in question as the party now holds just a one-seat advantage.

The Republican majority in the House had been 201-199 prior to the Rochester recount. Since Monday, recounts flipped two other seats from Republican to Democrat. Now the Republicans hold 200 seats going into the upcoming session and the Democrats 199, with one seat undecided.

Republican David Walker received one more vote than Democrat Chuck Grassie in the election night count, but the Wednesday recount found both candidates actually received the same number of votes: 970.

Three ballots and one absentee envelope are being challenged before the Ballot Law Commission, which is scheduled to meet the week after Thanksgiving to rule on those ballots. The parties can challenge ballots if there’s any ambiguity about whom the voter intended to vote for. During the recount, Secretary of State Dave Scanlan issues a ruling on it, but the parties can also ask the Ballot Law Commission to weigh in if they disagree with his decision.

Senior Deputy Secretary of State Patricia Lovejoy said the commission doesn’t usually rule differently than the secretary of state, but it is possible. If it did, that would effectively be a tiebreaker.

If the commission agrees with Scanlan on all four ballots, the House would then vote to determine who will represent Rochester Ward 4 when it meets on Dec. 7, according to Lovejoy.

A Wednesday morning recount of Strafford District 4, which represents Barrington and Strafford, left the results unchanged. Democrat Heath Howard’s election night win over Democrat Matthew Towne was confirmed.

New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.

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