CONCORD — Following a recount Republican Harold French has been certified the winner of the state senate seat in District 7, but Democrat Andrew Hosmer has questioned the whereabouts of 31 ballots and refused to concede the election.
On election night French was declared the winner by a margin of just 13 votes, 13,865 to 13,852, and Hosmer requested a recount, which confirmed the original outcome by the wider margin of 17 votes, 13,880 to 13,863.
The ballots Hosmer says are still an issue were cast in Laconia, Ward 5 where 1,031 of the 1,528 registered voters cast ballots. When the polls closed on election day, the tally recorded by the election officials showed that Hosmer carried Ward 5 by 64 votes, 523 to 459. The result showed that 982 of the 1,031 voters who cast ballots in Ward 5 voted in the state Senate race.
However, when the ballots this week were counted by hand, both candidates polled fewer votes. Hosmer's vote fell by 18 to 505 while French's vote fell by 13 to 446 and the total number of ballots cast in the race shrank by 31, from 982 to 951. In other words, the officials at the polling station, largely relying of a voting machine court, reported 31 more ballots in the race than were counted by hand in the course of the recount, 18 fewer for Hosmer and 13 fewer for French.
Despite the discrepancy, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner certified the result of the recount to confirm French as the winner of the election.
Meanwhile, Hosmer, represented by legal counsel, Paul Twomey and Bill Christie, said he has refused to concede the election and prepared to challenge the result for the "integrity of the electoral process." Lucas Meyer, of the New Hampshire Democratic Party staff, said that Twomey will come to Laconia on Monday to review the checklist of registered voters in an effort to resolve the discrepancy and that the party may appeal the result to the Ballot Law Commission. .
City Clerk Mary Reynolds insisted on Friday that "there is nothing missing." She said that after the polls were closed and the ballots were counted, election officials at Ward 5 placed the ballots in a box, which was sealed and labelled as bearing the 1,031 ballots cast. The ballots were secured in the City Clerk's office and on Monday, November 14 collected by an official of the Secretary of State, who delivered them to Concord. Reynolds said that she has spoken with Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan, who told her there are no missing ballots and suspected the discrepancy arose from a reporting error. "There is nothing missing," Reynolds repeated. "We have looked high and low. Everything we have, they have."