Audit reveals fallbacks behind New Hampshire election count error
Auditors concluded that counting errors in an election in New Hampshire were mainly caused by the way the ballots were folded, according to a report released Tuesday.
The legislature-mandated audit was requested by lawmakers from both parties after a Democratic candidate lost in a legislative race in the town of Windham called for a recount. This recount showed that Republican candidates were getting hundreds of votes more than what was originally counted.
The gap caught the attention of former President Donald Trump and his supporters in their efforts to find evidence for his broader allegation of electoral fraud from 2020. Critics of the audit said that before the report was finalized, they felt it had not gone enough away to find the source of the count error.
“I still have a lot of questions to answer. I still have questions in my head about the folds and a few other things, ”said Bruce Breton, member of the Windham Board of Selectmen. “Are the folds the real reason for the counting error?” “
A team of auditors, however, “found no basis to believe that the counting errors found in Windham indicate a pattern of partisan bias or a failed election.”
“Basically, the large discrepancy between the election night totals and the two-handed tally in the state officials contest in Windham can be attributed to unintended consequences and misfortune,” listeners Harri Hursti wrote. , Mark Lindeman and Philip Stark. “The harassed election officials borrowed a folder to send out thousands of postal ballots faster, and the votes on about 400 ballots were miscounted as a result. “
The city used the machine to fold mail-in ballots before sending them to voters. After being turned over, the ballots were fed into a counting machine. Because the folds of some ballots went through a Democrat name, the ballot was not counted or a vote was incorrectly assigned to the Democrat.
Listeners said the problem was most likely limited to Windham, a claim echoed by Secretary of State Bill Gardner. Ballots are sent to cities with score marks for ease of folding and the state ensures that these marks do not go through the ovals where the votes are marked.
“It is not impossible that wrinkles affected the outcome of a contest in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, which has 400 seats, but we can conclude that Windham was not the tip of a huge iceberg, ”the listeners wrote. “Nonetheless, people’s votes must be counted accurately, so procedural reforms are warranted.”
Gardner oversaw 549 recounts in his 44 years as Secretary of State, including 16 after the November election. Those recounts involved 168,000 ballots – 22% of the total cast statewide – and 65 polling stations.
The audit makes a series of recommendations, including not folding the ballots in the future, asking election officials to fold the ballots correctly, checking the folds when opening the ballots by correspondence, add process controls that ensure that all postal ballots are counted and improve machine maintenance.
The offices of the secretary of state and attorney general received a copy of the report on Monday. They will prepare their own report on the audit and the resulting recommendations.