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Ballot Commission punts residency question to Senate

November 26, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Democrat Jon Morgan said Monday he is ready to get to work after the Ballot Law Commission declined to weigh in on two issues related to his narrow victory over Republican state Sen. Bill Gannon.

Gannon, of Sandown, had asked the commission a few days before the Nov. 6 election to review how long Morgan has lived in the state. The New Hampshire Constitution requires state senators to be inhabitants of the state for seven years preceding the election. Morgan, of Brentwood, said he had tax and voter registration records from September 2011 to prove he met the requirement, but Republicans argue that he didn’t meet it before the primary.

Though Gannon withdrew his request Sunday, the commission took up the issue Monday, deciding that the Senate has jurisdiction over such matters. The commission also heard a complaint about a box of ballots that was initially left behind in Exeter as a recount got underway Nov. 20. But it said the attorney general’s office was the appropriate venue for such matters, and the complainant, Linda Brown, said she wouldn’t pursue the matter further.

“I’m pleased that these Washington style, partisan attacks continue to have no place in the Granite State,” Morgan said after the meeting. “I’m ready to get to work fighting the opioid crisis and building an economy that provides everyone in New Hampshire an opportunity to succeed.”

The recount found Morgan won the seat by 105 votes. But Brown, an observer at the recount, said the box officials had to fetch from Exeter had different markings than the others and could have been a case of tampering. The fact that it wasn’t discovered until late in the afternoon during the recount, when Gannon was ahead in the counting, was suspicious, she said, and she questioned how it had sat unnoticed for two weeks.

“It’s just not believable,” she said.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said town election officials re-cycled a box that had been used in the primary election, which explained the different markings, and that it was sealed properly according to state law.

The commission did settle another matter about disputed ballots in Laconia. The initial tally showed Democrat Gail Ober winning a House seat by 12 votes, but a recount put Republican Richard Beaudoin ahead by two. Ober challenged two ballots, one in which the voter crossed out multiple names and another in which the voter drew a line down part of the ballot. The commission deemed the second ballot invalid but upheld the secretary of state’s ruling on the first, which gave the vote to Beaudoin. The result cost him one vote but he retained the win.

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