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New Hampshire

NH Senate recount challenges absentee ballots

CONCORD — When employees publicly tallied the votes Tuesday within the Nov. 8 election for District 24 of the New Hampshire state Senate, they every confirmed a poll, and observers stored responding with a single phrase: “challenge.”

The observers did not problem each single poll, however they appeared to boost a problem each time they noticed a mail-in poll.

Challenges are a traditional a part of the counting course of. They are used to report considerations that the Secretary of State must evaluate and determine how the vote ought to be recorded. Candidates who usually are not glad with the secretary’s resolution can then contact the Electoral Law Commission to request one other stage of evaluate.

But the massive variety of challenges raised on Tuesday added an uncommon layer to an already uncommon recount course of.

Republican nominee Lou Gargiulo of Hampton Falls requested the recount, though early ballot outcomes confirmed he misplaced by 3,683 votes, or 11.4 share factors, to Democratic nominee Debra Altschiller of Stratham within the district, which represents seven Seacoast cities.

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan mentioned he could not recall what was the widest vary of any recount his workplace had carried out in current many years, however he confirmed this race was among the many widest. Regardless, he mentioned he is laser-focused on the duty at hand.

“They are exercising their right to contest ballots and we’re going to do a recount,” Scanlan mentioned.

Gargiulo expects a large invoice

Gargiulo was eligible to request this recount beneath state legislation as he misplaced lower than 20%. But since he misplaced greater than 3%, he has to pay the total value of the recount. It will not be low-cost.

The recount dragged on for greater than eight hours on Tuesday and was as a result of proceed on Saturday. The employees have recounted the votes from Exeter, Hampton and Stratham and so they nonetheless should work their means by way of the ballots from Greenland, Hampton Falls, North Hampton and Rye.

Reached by telephone, Gargiulo mentioned Tuesday he expects to spend greater than $2,000 on the recount.

“My team recommended it and I stand by them,” he mentioned.

Gargiulo mentioned his group needs to see what the results of a hand rely compares to a machine rely and in addition acquire insights into absentee voting.

“It’s not that easy to get that information, and when we do that in a live recount, we can see all those things,” he mentioned.

“We’re just on a reconnaissance mission to ensure the integrity of the process,” he added. “If there is a problem, we will of course announce it. If there is no problem, there will be no problem.”

Republicans win in NH tally,however the matter just isn’t settled but

Gargiulo mentioned he couldn’t attend Tuesday’s recount as a result of a scheduling battle. He confirmed that Michael Bean was on the recount on his behalf. Bean declined an interview request.

State Senator Jim Gray, R-Rochester, who watched the recount from throughout the room, mentioned he wasn’t concerned with the challenges and wanted to perform a little research to grasp their goal.

“Before we start the session, I’ll do my best to find out exactly what’s going on,” he mentioned.

Activist focusing on postal voting suggested Gargiulo

Absentee voting is permitted in New Hampshire for sure conditions. This contains spiritual follow, incapacity or sickness, work commitments, or absence all through polling station opening hours.

Daniel Richard of Auburn, a non-lawyer who describes himself as a self-taught constitutional scholar, claimed among the situations wherein state legislation permits postal voting are unconstitutional.

Richard, who attended Tuesday’s recount on the state archives, mentioned he had suggested the Gargiulo marketing campaign to contest all postal votes.

“By challenging them all, you are now forcing them before a competent court to see if these exceptions are valid,” he mentioned.

Richard claimed the absentee poll was related to litigation he was pushing on the matter. Richard was behind a lawsuit that attempted unsuccessfully earlier this 12 months to dam the usage of poll counting machines.

Gargiulo mentioned members of his group have had discussions with Richard and he believes his group is difficult mail-in voting, which “is not necessarily consistent with the state’s constitution.”

Richard, who organized a bunch referred to as the New Hampshire Committee of Safety, has campaigned towards the expanded use of mail-in voting for at the very least two years. Speaking throughout a rally in Concord in December 2020, he filed a 10-page doc with state officers alleging they had been “conspiring to conduct an illegal election” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, responded on the time that the state’s elections had been carried out with integrity and recounts confirmed the outcomes, Nancy West reported for InDepthNH.

“While some dislike the results, our elections were fair, transparent and accurate,” Sununu mentioned.

Recount has Democrats scratching their heads

Altschiller, who watched the recount at her race on Tuesday, mentioned the state’s non permanent however now-defunct growth of mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic is nice.

“We should have no-parole voting in New Hampshire,” she mentioned. “For us to require people to qualify to vote by mail is a form of voter suppression.”

For instance, voters do not know in the event that they or somebody they look after will get sick on election day, Altschiller mentioned.

“I personally voted, and I was thrilled to do that, but I had three kids, and they’re wildcards,” she added.

Altschiller mentioned she wish to know why Gargiulo’s group appeared to query each absentee poll, no matter which candidate the voter selected. She mentioned she has personally witnessed greater than 700 ballot-by-mail challenges from Hampton voters alone. Voters ought to be assured that the Secretary of State’s workplace will rely each poll, she added.

Two voting questions:New Hampshire mentioned no to a constitutional conference, preserved the probate register

“I have been told that it is extremely unusual and also frowned upon to request a recount when a comma separates the winner from the loser in the number of votes,” Altschiller mentioned. “If Mr. Gargiulo thinks he can get over 3,000 votes, I have no idea what constituency he’s targeting, but 11% is a very big number to turn around.”

Altschiller, a present state consultant, seems to have received the seat vacated by Democratic Senator Tom Sherman to run for governor.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley, who was additionally among the many room full of individuals watching Gargiulo’s recount on Tuesday, mentioned the entire ordeal seems to be the product of a rich man losing cash on unsuccessful electoral ambitions.

“It’s nonsensical,” he mentioned.

State officers carried out greater than two dozen recounts for state consultant races this week and final week, however Gargiulo’s recount is the one one for a Senate seat.

Melanie Levesque, the Democratic nominee who misplaced to incumbent Republican Senator Kevin Avard in Senate District 12, additionally requested a recount, however rescinded the request and introduced that she is working for secretary of state.

Levesque misplaced her Senate race by 688 votes, or about 2.5 share factors. She was criticized for requesting a recount in a race with that margin.

These tales are shared by the Granite State News Collaborative. Steven Porter is the founding editor of Granite Memo, a web site and e-newsletter dedicated to New Hampshire politics.

Debra Altschiller, New Hampshire State Assemblyman and State Senator-elect, is the spouse of Howard Altschiller, Editor-in-Chief of the Seacoast Media Group.

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