Democrats are doing their darndest to hang onto a NH House seat that appeared to flip this week in their favor.
Their efforts now include litigation that seeks to block NH Secretary of State David Scanlan from moving forward with his plan to resume counting votes Monday in the state rep race for Hillsborough County District 16 (Manchester Ward 6).
"The bottom line is that the votes in Manchester Ward 6 were counted twice already, and New Hampshire Election laws do not allow for anyone, whether it be a political party or the Secretary of State, to conduct recount after recount until they achieve their desired result," said Colin Booth, communications director for the NH Democratic Party.
The initial election day tally showed Democratic challenger Maxine Mosley losing by 23 votes to Republican incumbent NH Rep. Larry Gagne, but a recount on Monday showed Mosley defeating Gagne by 1 vote.
Three days later, Scanlan announced that the Hillsborough 16 recount would continue Monday due to "insufficient certainty" that all the votes had been counted. That seemed to give the GOP some confidence that the flip would ultimately be un-flipped.
|HILLSBOROUGH 16||Election (Nov. 8)||Recount (Nov. 14)||Recount (Nov. 21)|
|🔴 Infantine||1,895 ✔️||1,877 ✔️||TBD|
|🔴 Gagne||1,820 ✔️||1,798 🔀❌||TBD|
|🔵 Mosley||1,797 ❌||1,799 🔀✔️||TBD|
|🔵 Hillhouse||1,644 ❌||1,643 ❌||TBD|
The New Hampshire Journal reported earlier Friday that the Democrats were likely to file suit to block Scanlan's plan.
The Democrats confirmed their intentions with a statement Friday afternoon describing the effort as "an upcoming lawsuit to protect election integrity in the Granite State."
The lawsuit was filed Friday in Merrimack Superior Court, Booth said.
Booth said Scanlan, a Republican, plans to hold an "unprecedented and illegal recount." State law says, once the secretary has declared a winner, the only remedy is to take disputes to the Ballot Law Commission, he said.
"The Secretary of State declared a winner in the Manchester Ward 6 House Election on Monday," Booth said, accusing Scanlan of "clearly ignoring" NH election law.
Whether Scanlan did, in fact, declare a winner on Monday may become a central question in this case. When he announced Thursday that the recount would continue, Scanlan said he can't declare a winner at this time.
A spokesperson for Scanlan did not immediately respond Friday to Granite Memo's request for comment.
Manchester Republican Rep. Ross Berry said the Democratic lawsuit disrespects Manchester voters.
"It is not surprising that Democrats do not want to finish counting all the votes. Instead of listening to (the) will of the voters of Ward 6, they would rather try and prematurely stop the count which currently gives them the lead," Berry said.
"It is a shameless and openly partisan attack on our democratic process and brings into question why they are trying to deny the result of an election," he added.
It is a shameless and openly partisan attack on our democratic process.
Booth contended that Republicans are ignoring the election integrity laws they passed. Even the state's new audit statute says another recount can happen only if the discrepancy between an audit and the recount is 1% or greater, which wasn't the case this time, he said.
"The NH GOP wishes to ignore its own election laws and do another recount in this race in the hopes of overturning an election that was done fairly and counted accurately by the Secretary of State's own staff," Booth said.
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Earlier on Friday, McKenzie St. Germain, director of the NH Campaign for Voting Rights, said Scanlan's announcement that the recount would continue shows that he needs to bring greater clarity to the process.
"There is nothing more important to democracy than counting all votes accurately and with transparency in a timely manner. With so many state legislative races being recounted this year and control of the body up in the air, the stakes could not be higher," St. Germain said.
There is nothing more important to democracy than counting all votes accurately and with transparency in a timely manner.
"During recounts, it should be clear to the public when vote counts are preliminary versus when they are confirmed and final to avoid the confusion we are experiencing in districts Hillsborough 16 and Rockingham 06," she added, calling on the secretary's office to develop and release clear recount standards and procedures.
The danger of the course Scanlan has taken is that "reopening recounts perceived as completed could fuel the false perception of voter fraud, particularly if results change."
An email released to Granite Memo by a spokesperson for the NH Department of Justice shows that William E. Christie, an attorney, notified the court that he would likely file an emergency petition to seek a temporary restraining order and ask for a hearing on the matter to be held before the recount is scheduled to resume Monday afternoon.