In his first election as Secretary of State, Dave Scanlan will oversee 31 recounts of races in last week’s midterm election. That is a 50 percent increase over the 20 recounts then-Sec. Bill Gardner oversaw in the 2018 midterms.
Also, larger is the margin of victory in many of the races being recounted.
Democrat Melanie Levesque, for example, lost her race against incumbent state Sen. Kevin Avard by nearly 700 votes. And yet after the votes were tallied, she announced her plans to have the ballots recounted.
Republican Lou Gargiulo lost to progressive Rep. Debra Altschiller by 3,656 in the Senate District 24 race. And yet he is asking for a recount, too.
It is extremely unusual for a recount to change more than a handful of votes. Single digits are most common, with the occasional 20-vote swing. For example, when Monday’s recount flipped Democrat Maxine Mosley’s 23-vote loss into a one-vote victory in Manchester Ward 6, members of both parties were stunned. Republican Will Infantine, the top vote-getter who saw his number drop by 22 votes as well, told the Union Leader he plans to appeal to the Ballot Law Commission.
“Clearly, there’s something wrong here. We just don’t magically both lose 22 votes like that,” Infantine said.
If 22 votes set off alarm bells, why is Republican state representative candidate Tom Lanzara of Nashua Ward 5 demanding a recount after losing by 256 votes? That is 10 percent fewer votes than the Democrat who beat him. What’s the point?
Some critics see the influence of the “election denial” movement, with Republicans taking to Twitter to mock Levesque for her Trumpian recount approach. In a statement posted on social media, however, Levesque appeared to concede her election.
“The results are in, and unfortunately we fell short of the majority of votes needed to secure a victory,” Levesque said in a statement. “Our campaign is working to request a recount as permitted under New Hampshire state law.”
Levesque did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
“I think it has to do with Windham,” said Republican National Committeeman Chris Ager. “That problem was discovered during a recount, and I think some people just want to make sure everything is working like it should.”
In Windham’s 2020 general election, improper fold lines on the ballots caused machines to misread the final tally by 400 votes. Investigating the error cost the state more than $120,000 and fed the unfounded conspiracy theory pushed by former President Donald Trump and a handful of far-right media personalities that the 2020 election experience widespread fraud.
“I don’t believe in extreme recounts,” said Ager. “If it’s less than two percent of the total vote, then I understand. And if it helps people resolve their issues and have more confidence in the system, I don’t object to that.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the total number of recounts to be conducted by the NHSOS office.