Judge Amy Ignatius ruled Tuesday that a contentious recount will continue to determine the outcome of a House race to represent Manchester Ward 6. (Steven Porter | Granite Memo)
A contentious recount will continue in a Manchester Ward 6 House race despite efforts by Democrats to end it, Merrimack County Superior Court judge Amy Ignatius ruled Tuesday morning.
Democrats Maxine Mosley, a candidate in the race, and Sen. Donna Soucy filed a lawsuit to stop a continuation of the recount, arguing it had already been concluded last week. Secretary of State David Scanlan had declared her the winner over Republican Larry Gagne last Monday, leaving Republicans with a 200 to 199 majority over the New Hampshire House. But three days later, Scanlan said a reconciliation process revealed a likely administrative error leaving ballots cast on election day uncounted during the recount. He proposed additional counting to rectify that error, and on Tuesday, Ignatius agreed.
“While the defendant’s announcement of Ms. Mosley as the winner presents complexity, the greatest weight must be attributed to the complete and lawful count of the votes cast to determine the will of the people,” Ignatius wrote in the order. “The defendant’s alleged clerical error which may have altered the results of the recount tally compels this court to allow additional review of the ballots to determine that the expressed choice of the voters is the final outcome.”
Scanlan’s review of the ballots – scheduled to take place Tuesday – must include all ballots cast, and not just those cast for Republican candidates, Ignatius said in the order. It will be held at the Archives and will follow the same rules about transparency and process as a typical recount.
“This extraordinary circumstance requires an atypical remedy,” she wrote.
Gov. Chris Sununu praised the ruling and criticized Democrat leaders for seeking to block the recount.
“In an effort to subvert the will of Manchester Ward 6 voters, New Hampshire Democrat leaders have engaged in appalling, hypocritical, and outrageous behavior to prevent all legal votes from being counted,” he said in a written statement. He said the decision would protect election integrity and ensure the voters’ voices are fully reflected.
Democratic attorney Bill Christie argued that there was no evidence a mistake was made in the recount and that continuing the recount would constitute a second recount, which isn’t usually allowed under New Hampshire law.
But Ignatius said Scanlan’s explanation about the clerical error was credible, and that technicalities shouldn’t outweigh the will of the people.
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