Another round of counting ballots returned a New Hampshire state legislative seat to the GOP on Tuesday, but both the final outcome of that race and broader control of the House remained unsettled.
Unofficial post-Election Day tallies showed 203 Republican winners and 197 Democrats, but pending recounts could still tip the final balance of power.
In Manchester’s Ward 6, initial results showed Republican Rep. Larry Gagne defeating Democrat Maxine Mosley by 23 votes after a recount last week gave Mosley a win by one vote. Secretary of State David Scanlan said the recount would continue this week because of a discrepancy between how many ballots were tallied during the recount and those processed during a separate audit.
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That prompted Mosley and the state Senate’s Democratic leader, Donna Soucy, to file a lawsuit seeking an emergency order to stop the proceedings. A judge denied their request Tuesday morning and ordered the state to review all votes cast in the race later in the day. The new tally showed the Republican winning by 26 votes.
The case now heads to the Ballot Law Commission, which meets Monday.
“The more times these ballots are counted, the greater doubt is placed on the secretary of state and his process,” said Colin Booth, spokesman for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “We look forward to our hearing before the Ballot Law Commission as the next step in ensuring the integrity of this election.”
In her order, Merrimack County Superior Court Judge Amy Ignatius said Democrats had the law on their side but “this extraordinary circumstance requires an atypical remedy.”
“Ordinarily the defendant does not maintain the authority to review a recount of an election. This matter stands apart from ordinary circumstances,” she wrote.
The judge cited a previous ruling by the state Supreme Court that said the key question is not whether an election official has followed the law but “what was the legally expressed choice of the voters?”
“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,” Ignatius said.
Scanlan had argued that he ordered a “continuation of the count,” not a “recount,” and that vote tallies are not official until all reconciliation efforts are complete. Democrats said Scanlan declared Mosley the official winner after the recount and that state law permits a second recount only if an audit reveals a discrepancy greater than 1%, which wasn’t the case here.
The state Republican Party sent a fundraising pitch immediately after the ruling asking supporters to donate to an “election integrity fund so that we are further equipped to push back against the foreseeable future of Democratic voter disenfranchisement.”
Control of the House has flipped in six of the last nine elections, most recently in 2020, when Republicans gained a 26-vote majority.