An attempt to allow citizens to inspect ballots is likely to be killed today by the House. House Bill 1548 would repeal the right-to-know exemption for ballots passed in 2003 after groups began asking the Secretary of State’s Office to review ballots when the retention period ended but before they were destroyed. Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said, “After we started getting requests like that, the Legislature passed the exemption to place in statute what had been long-standing policy.” Ballots were always considered private after an election, he said. Ballots were always sealed and held and only opened for a recount or a court order, Scanlan said.
The bill’s prime sponsor Rep. Seth Cohn, R-Canterbury, said he introduced the bill on behalf of groups looking into election fraud such as Black Box Voting. “They raised their concerns and I thought they had a right to be heard,” Cohn said. But no one appeared at the public hearing to support the bill, except him, Cohn said.
Deborah Sumner of Jaffrey said the provision exempting ballots from the state’s right-to-know law was approved in 2003 without a full public discussion. This takes away the possibility of citizen oversight, she said, which could help prevent mistakes and protect against voter fraud. “It’s all hidden from the public,” Sumner said. “There’s no valid reason for it.” Sumner said her concern is electronic voting, which really shuts out the public.