By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
After 20 years as deputy to retiring Bill Gardner, David Scanlan, 65, of Bow took over as Secretary of State on Monday.
He was sworn in by House Speaker Sherman Packard in the Executive Council chambers at the State House with his wife, Kathy, by his side.
Scanlan said Tuesday in a phone interview: “Bill Gardner really laid the groundwork for the way this department operates.
“My goal is to make sure we continue to provide the citizens of New Hampshire with great service. We are going to do everything we can to make sure the election we run in 2022 is fair and accurate.”
Scanlan said Tuesday seemed like any other day at work.
“As Bill mentioned, it is a smooth transition. Today is no different than yesterday or day before,” said Scanlan who served as Republican in the legislature before becoming deputy.
He said since he became deputy, he has not attended any partisan events to make sure it wasn’t a partisan office.
Attorney General John Formella issued an opinion Jan. 6 saying it was legal for Scanlan to take over.
The legislature votes on the Secretary of State every two years and Gardner was one year into that term.
Rep. Rebecca McWilliams, D-Concord, questioned the constitutionality of Scanlan taking over after Gardner’s retirement, which also formally happened on Monday.
On Tuesday, McWilliams said: “I fervently hope that he is impartial and upholds the constitution. Specifically on election-related matters as the House just passed a gerrymandered redistricting bill and we are facing egregious voter suppression bills this year.”
On Sunday, Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards told McWilliams in an email:
“Attorney General Formella issued an opinion on Thursday, January 6, 2022, to Secretary of State Bill Gardner confirming, as past Attorney Generals have confirmed, that Dave Scanlan will be assuming the role of Acting Secretary of State in accordance with Part II, Article 69 of the New Hampshire Constitution.
“Because of Secretary Gardner’s resignation, he is unable to serve because he has removed himself from office. The Constitution requires that the Deputy Secretary of State then exercises all of the duties of the Secretary,” Edwards said.
Edwards attached letters dealing with the issue from Formella to Gardner, and former Attorney General Louis Wyman and former Deputy Attorney General Tom Rath on behalf of former Attorney General David Souter.
McWilliams also had raised the question on Twitter of whether the deputy can be sworn-in mid-term where she said:
“SoS Gardner doesn’t appear to have the authority to nominate his successor – that’s the legislature’s job.”
Gov. Chris Sununu said Monday: “Congratulations to David Scanlan, who takes the helm as New Hampshire’s Secretary of State today and who I look forward to working with on behalf of NH. To former Secretary Bill Gardner, congratulations on a well-deserved retirement and thank you for your many years of service!”