CONCORD — A “missing” box of ballots added to the intrigue but the narrow upset win for Brentwood Democrat Jon Morgan for a State Senate seat in Rockingham County held up to a recount test Tuesday.
Sandown Republican Bill Gannon picked up 22 votes from what counters had given him on Election Night but Morgan got another 21 votes of his own after recounting all the ballots.
The second count had Morgan unseating the one-term incumbent Gannon by 105 votes, 12,911 to 12,806.
On Nov. 6, Morgan had been declared the winner by 106, 12,890 to 12,784.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon Gannon was prepared to concede the outcome until Gardner realized that not all of the ballots cast had been brought to the State Archives Building in Concord for the recount.
Gardner contacted officials in Exeter and learned indeed that one box containing about 300 votes had been left behind at town hall.
The state elections chief arranged for a team of his volunteers to pick up those ballots from Exeter officials who met the team halfway. The group met at the Dunkin Donuts off Route 101.
The “missing” box didn’t change the outcome, Gardner said.
Gannon said he accepted the outcome and thanked his supporters while Morgan told reporters the exercise showed the importance of every vote.
While unusual, Gardner said a missing box of ballots was not unprecedented.
He recalled a state representative recount around the 2000 election from North Country towns.
“We couldn’t find a box and we called up to Northumberland and officials there found the box under a table,” Gardner said.
“We’re glad this resolves any questions about this race.”
What was notable about Exeter was Morgan would have clearly lost to Gannon without that community.
Gannon beat Morgan in seven of the eight other towns but Morgan crushed Gannon by nearly 2,300 votes in Exeter.
There’s one remaining hurdle for Morgan as he faces a challenge to his residency before the Ballot Law Commission when it meets next Monday.
Susan Olsen, a conservative activist, charged Morgan’s own statements revealed he didn’t move to the state beyond the seven-year requirement all state senators must meet to hold that office.
Morgan said he’s confident about prevailing in this test as well.
The Ballot Law Commission’s chairman suggested that group may conclude it doesn’t have the power to disqualify a candidate on residency grounds once the election has been held.
Some election law experts have in the past opined that only members of the legislative bodies can rule on challenges to their elected members.