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23 requests for recounts filed in N.H. state, county elections

Recounts will be conducted this month in two state Senate races won by Republicans that could decide the balance of power in the chamber for the next two years.

In addition, recounts are planned in the Cheshire County sheriff’s election and 20 House races, including in the district where outgoing Speaker Bill O’Brien narrowly held onto his seat, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Tuesday’s election saw Democrats take 222 seats in the New Hampshire House to 178 for the Republicans, and win 11 seats in the Senate to 13 for the Republicans. The deadline for candidates to file for a recount was yesterday afternoon, and recounts have been scheduled Tuesday through Nov. 20.

A recount is scheduled Tuesday in the Senate District 9 race, where Republican Andy Sanborn of Bedford defeated Democrat Lee Nyquist of New Boston by a margin of 253 votes, with 15,478 for Sanborn and 15,225 for Nyquist.

A recount is planned Nov. 20 in the District 16 race, where Republican Sen. David Boutin of Hooksett beat Democrat Kathleen Kelley of Manchester by 396 votes, with 13,876 cast for Boutin and 13,480 cast for Kelley.

Among the 20 House districts with recounts scheduled is the race in a two-seat district representing Mont Vernon and New Boston.

Democrat David Woodbury of New Boston finished first with 2,263 votes, followed by O’Brien of Mont Vernon with 2,110. Democrat Kary Jencks of New Boston finished third with 2,043 votes, just 67 behind O’Brien, a Republican who is set to lose his leadership post once the new legislative session begins even if he keeps his seat. Republican Bob Mead of Mont Vernon finished fourth with 1,913 votes.

That recount is scheduled for Wednesday.

Tuesday will see a recount in the two-seat district representing Manchester’s Ward 8. Democratic Rep. Thomas Katsiantonis finished first with 2,265 votes, followed by Republican Rep. Steve Vaillancourt with 1,960 votes. Republican Rep. Mark Proulx finished third with 1,945 votes, just 15 votes behind Vaillancourt, who has been a loud and frequent critic of O’Brien.

Several local races are also set to see recounts:

∎ Democrat Maureen Mann of Deerfield defeated Republican Don Gorman of Deerfield by 13 votes in a single-seat district representing Candia, Deerfield, Northwood and Nottingham. That recount is set for Wednesday.

∎ Incumbent Republican Rep. Greg Hill of Franklin lost his seat by 71 votes. He finished third in a two-seat district representing Franklin’s Ward 3 and Northfield, with Democrat Joy Tilton of Northfield leading with 1,742 votes, followed by Democrat Leigh Webb of Franklin with 1,522 and Hill with 1,451. That recount is scheduled for Nov. 19.

And in Cheshire County, a recount is planned Nov. 20 in the race for county sheriff. Democrat Eli Rivera of Keene beat Republican Earl Nelson of Marlborough by a mere 27 votes, with 18,866 to 18,839 cast for Nelson.

Twenty-three recounts isn’t an unusual number. There were 20 recounts requested following the 2008 election, and 28 recounts after the 2000 election, according to Secretary of State Bill Gardner.

New Hampshire was also the site of one of the nation’s most infamous recounts, in the 1974 U.S. Senate race between Republican Louis Wyman and Democrat John Durkin.

Wyman was initially reported as the winner by 355 votes. After a recount, Durkin was declared the winner by 10 votes. The Ballot Law Commission then declared Wyman the winner by two votes. The matter eventually went to the U.S. Senate, which ordered a new election the following year, which Durkin won.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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