An omitted stack of ballots for a Republican candidate has overturned the election results for a critical House seat in the state of New Hampshire.
Republican Larry Gagne was declared the winner over previously-declared winner Democrat Maxine Mosley yesterday in the District 16 race in Manchester, the most populous city in New Hampshire. The results of the races left Republicans holding a one-seat majority in the state’s House of Representatives for the new session in January.
With a Republican governor and an all-Republican Congress, New Hampshire is poised to be the only Republican-ruled state in New England.
The New Hampshire Democrat Party unsuccessfully waged a legal bid to stop the recount which handed Gagne the victory. A New Hampshire Superior Court judge on Tuesday denied the party’s request for a permanent injunction of any further audits of the race.
Bill O’Brien, attorney for the New Hampshire Republican party, which challenged a lawsuit filed on Friday by the Democrat party, told The Epoch Times, that it was concerning that a party that is so intent on accusing the GOP of making up false claims about election fraud, would try to block people’s constitutional rights to have their votes be counted.
“They were willing to compromise constitutional rights for the control of the House,” O’Brien said, adding that he did not suspect deliberate foul play.
Initially Gagne was declared the initial winner by 23 votes. A recount requested by Mosley, put her at a one-vote win over Gagne.
However, when the New Hampshire Secretary of State conducted an audit of election results for governor in the same district, it was discovered that a stack of ballots counted as only 100, actually had 125 ballots in the stack with the top 25 being ballots exclusively cast for Republicans. It was suspected those top 25 ballots were not included in the final tally.
Secretary of State Dave Scanlan agreed the discrepancy justified a further audit of the race results, but in their lawsuit, Democrats argue that under state law, once a winner is declared in an initial recount, any further recounts is prohibited.
“At the conclusion of the recount Democrat Maxine Mosley was declared the winner by the secretary of state. The secretary of state’s declaration of Mosley’s victory was posted on the secretary of state’s website,” Democrats stated in their lawsuit.
But Merrimack County Superior Court Amy Ignatius disagreed, ruling on Wednesday that the wishes of voters outweigh statutory election requirements.
“In resolving election difficulties of this nature, care must be taken that the matter is not decided on the basis of unwarranted technicalities. The goal must be the ascertainment of the legally expressed choice of the voters,” she wrote in her conclusions.
The judge ordered a full recount of all ballots cast in the district. That recount, which started at 1 p.m. and ended around 7 p.m. took place yesterday.
The results gave Gagne a 24-vote win over Moxley, which if adding the one-vote lead Moxley had going into the recount, equals the 25 discovered ballots previously omitted from the original tally.
The Democrats have vowed to appeal the recount to the NH Ballot Law Commission, which is also slated to decide a tie-vote in another statehouse race in New Hampshire. If the Commission does not find any discrepancies to resolve the tie, it will then go to the newly-elected Legislature in January to decide, a Legislature that will now more than likely be Republican controlled.
The Democrats in part blamed Scanlan for agreeing that further audit of the race results was in order. “It’s unfortunate that Secretary Scanlan is clearly ignoring New Hampshire election law, but we will do whatever it takes to protect the integrity of our elections,” Colin Booth, Communications Director for the New Hampshire Democratic Party said in a statement prior to the recount on Nov. 22.
Ignatius in her ruling did agree that state law would normally restrict further recount in the race, but determined that the limited special exceptions under the law applied.
However, she ruled, “extraordinary circumstances require an atypical remedy.”
New Hampshire has the largest House of Representatives in the U.S. They have preserved the state’s tax-free status, its lack of seat-belt and helmet laws, and was the earliest state in the Northeast to lift COVID-19 mandates and lockdowns.