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Joyce Endee

Leon Rideout wins rep race by 34 votes, gains 22 votes

Representative-elect Leon Rideout of Cos District 7, left, a Republican of Lancaster, and his nephew, Rep. Jon Richardson, a Republican of Allenstown who lost his one-term seat on Nov. 6, watch Assistant Secretary of State Dave Scammon, seated, left, handle a disputed ballot on Thursday, Nov. 15, as Party observers and staffers look on. By the end of the four-hour process, Rideouts original 12-point margin 3,265 to 3,253 had swelled to a 34-point margin 3274 to 3240. Photo by Edith Tucker. (click for larger version)
November 20, 2012
CONCORD — Shortly after 1 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, the ballots from the 10 towns of floterial Cos District 7 had all been re-counted, one by one, by three teams of counters, closely observed by Party volunteers, including some state representatives.

Rep.-elect Leon Rideout, a Republican of Lancaster, was declared the winner over incumbent Rep. Evalyn Merrick, a Democrat of

Lancaster, with a 34-vote spread: 3,274 to 3,240.

The original tally, 3,265 to 3,253, only had him winning with a 12-point spread.

Rideout was on hand for the very satisfying moment; Merrick had telephoned the Secretary of State's office to report that she had a fever that had put her on antibiotics and could not be present.

Rep. Herb Richardson of Lancaster was on hand to shake Rideout's hand.

Assistant Secretary of State Dave Scammon supervised the recount, along with others on the third floor of the Legislative Office Building (LOB) behind the State House.

Only the town of Dummer had no errors in their Election Night count: 77 for Rideout and 72 for Merrick.

Carroll had over-counted Merrick by one vote.

Dalton had undercounted Rideout by four votes, and over-counted Merrick by seven.

Jefferson, Lancaster and Northumberland all under-counted Rideout by one and over-counted Merrick by one.

Milan under-counted Merrick by four. Randolph over-counted Merrick by one vote.

Stark undercounted Rideout by one and over-counted Merrick by two.

Whitefield undercounted Rideout by one, and over-counted Merrick by three.

The taped-shut boxes of ballots, each signed and dated by a town clerk, were brought into Room 301 on dollies.

Town Clerk Stephanie Glidden signed one of the Whitefield boxes at precisely 11:28 a.m. on 11-6-12.

Scammon set aside the very few ballots that were challenged by an observer acting on behalf of a candidate aside with a note explaining the reason for further consideration, but the number was so small that it would not have changed the recount's result.

By law, the boxes of ballots must be retained by the Secretary of State's Office for 22 months, and then may be destroyed.

Asked for his take on the process midway through the four-hour recount, Rideout replied, "I'm impressed with how thorough the recount is. Assistant Secretary of State Scammon has handled challenges in a fair and impartial manner, and I have no problem with his judgment calls, even when they've gone against me."

The new floterial Cos District 7 includes Carroll, Dalton, Dummer, Jefferson, Lancaster, Milan, Northumberland, Randolph, Stark, and Whitefield. Also included is the Unincorporated Place of Kilkenny that has no voters. Nonetheless, 20 ballots were printed up just in case a same-day registration took place.

That evening Merrick e-mailed her comments on the election outcome, responding to a phone call.

"The recount is complete, and I accept the outcome," Merrick wrote. "The team that worked on my behalf has my respect and appreciation for their time and focus. It could not have been an easy task. A 34-vote margin is not a mandate, and I feel very good about the outcome, all things considered.

"My approach has always been to maintain a positive and honorable campaign. And against all odds...the negative, false letters, mailings and stealing of my signs, to mention a few... my commitment and resolve to maintain integrity and respect for the process remained intact throughout the campaign.

"Six years ago, my political career began on the (Democratic) wave that took us in a positive direction with amazing, bright, dedicated legislators. I feel so fortunate and so grateful to have been a part of that wave and of the accomplishments we achieved. Then the ebb and flow in a rough sea. This next wave of new, enthusiastic, energetic and idealistic legislators will do great things for our State, along with those who are wiser and more experienced and are returning to serve another term. To the new Legislators: listen, listen, listen and learn.

"To the people I served in Cos District 2 for the last six years, I thank you for your ongoing support and for your trust in my ability to serve you well. I hope I did not let you down."

Martin Lord & Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
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