Rochester representatives push for Keno recountBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
November 13. 2017 10:44PM
ROCHESTER — Two members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives are canvassing their city to collect signatures requesting a recount of last week’s Keno vote.
During the municipal election, voters in Rochester approved the gambling game Keno by a one-vote margin, 1,036 to 1,035.
Republican Rep. Matthew Scruton asked for a recount Thursday, but then found out that at least 20 people would have to do the same before city officials could take action.
On Monday, Scruton was working to collect those signatures, even offering to pick up recount requests for people who would not be able to make it to city hall.
“There are a number of people who have expressed concern over the prospect of Keno in the city,” Scruton said. “We just want to make sure with the margin of one vote that it is recorded properly. It is the right thing to do.”
Scruton and state Rep. Chuck Grassie, D-Rochester, plan to introduce state legislation that would repeal the law which permits cities and towns to allow Keno in bars and restaurants. They are working on the bill with state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth.
Scruton said it would not take away money for full-day kindergarten funding, but it would stop the gambling game from being permitted in New Hampshire.
Scruton said Keno monies will not cover the complete cost of full-day kindergarten, and the bill was a bad example of how bad policy can be married to well-intended legislation.
Grassie said legislators were not fully aware of all the downsides of Keno before hearing the debate on the floor.
“I think it was sold to us as something it wasn’t,” Grassie said.
Grassie explained that he voted for Keno because he couldn’t refuse any funding that would help Rochester schoolchildren. Rochester has had full-day kindergarten for years, he said.
“Then what I found after the fact was that people can lose $1,000 per day,” Grassie said.
Both Scruton and Grassie are concerned gambling hurts those who can least afford it.
“When the paycheck is gone, or the baby’s milk money is gone, it becomes a problem for the family,” Grassie said. “We talk about people with opioid addiction. We have people with significant gambling problems.”
An employee with the Rochester city clerk’s office said Monday afternoon that they still had not received the required amount of recount requests by 4 p.m. Submissions can be accepted until Friday.
Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said the state will not be requesting recounts on Keno votes at the local level.
“It is something they will deal with at the municipal level,” Scanlan said.
Voters in Manchester, Berlin, Claremont, Nashua, Laconia and Somersworth approved Keno gambling in their cities last week. Concord, Dover and Keene rejected Keno.
Voters in Franklin approved Keno during a special election earlier this year. City councilors in Portsmouth refused to put it on the municipal ballot.
Lebanon is scheduled to vote on Keno in March. Towns in the state will also be asked to put Keno on their election ballots this spring.