New Hampshire: Effort to eliminate ballot-counting machines snags | Casey McDermott/Concord Monitor

A newly animated movement to eliminate ballot-counting machines in New Hampshire ran stalled out this week at the State House and in town elections, where the issue was on the ballot in about a dozen communities. On Wednesday, the House Election Law Committee unanimously voted against a bill that would have required all future elections in New Hampshire to be hand-counted. And the day before, voters across the state rejected similar mandates at the local level. Cities and towns can choose whether to count ballots by hand or by machine. Most opt to use the AccuVote, the only machine currently approved for use in New Hampshire, and hand-counting is largely limited to towns with 2,000 voters or less. Local activists and some Republican state lawmakers, spurred by mistrust in the outcome of the 2020 election, have been pushing to hand count all of New Hampshire’s future elections. In addition to rallying behind a bill to ban machines statewide, they also organized petition drives to put the issue before voters in a handful of communities this spring. House Election Law Committee Chairwoman Barbara Griffin, a Republican from Goffstown, said members of the panel waited to finalize their opinion on the statewide ban on vote-counting machines until voters had a chance to weigh in on the issue in Tuesday’s town elections. “There is no town that voted yesterday that supported the elimination of the counting devices that are currently used,” Griffin said. “So I think that to require this for every community in the state would not be appropriate.”

Full Article: Effort to eliminate ballot-counting machines snags

New Hampshire voters will weigh in on AccuVote ballot machines | Todd Bookman/NPR

Voters in the town of Milton, N.H., will this week be asked to weigh in on more than 30 different local issues, things like the school budget, the next fire chief and even the type of lightbulbs used in streetlamps. But another item on Milton’s town meeting ballot could reshape the town’s election process itself: Residents will decide whether election officials should continue using a ballot counting machine, known as the AccuVote, or revert to a hand count. Milton is one of more than a dozen New Hampshire communities voting on vote-counting this town meeting season, after activists who question the accuracy and security of the state’s ballot counting machines launched a campaign to ditch them. The activists behind the push to hand-count all ballots contend, without proof, that the machines can be hacked or rigged, and their effort follows baseless claims of widespread issues with the 2020 election. State and local election officials say the AccuVote — the only approved ballot counting machine in New Hampshire — has proven itself reliable at the polls and in an exhaustive outside audit held last spring.

Full Article: New Hampshire voters will weigh in on AccuVote ballot machines : NPR

New Hampshire bill to reprogram automated voting machines has support from election officials | Kevin Landrigan/The New Hampshire Union Leade

The state’s top election official and town clerks have endorsed a bipartisan bill to reprogram automated voting machines to detect ballots that have votes for too many candidates for a single office. Currently, if the machine detects an “overvote” it doesn’t count the votes for anyone for that race, though it does process the rest of the ballot. This change, if it had been made before the 2020 election, would have immediately flagged the absentee ballots that were incorrectly read by Windham voting machines on Election Day because of folds through one of the candidates’ names, said state Rep. Marjorie Porter, D-Hillsborough, the chief architect of the reform measure. Porter said the post-2020 election summary tapes of votes from other towns she and others have seen led her to believe many more votes were invalidated as the machines wrongly read them as overvotes. “This leads me to believe the shadow issue found in Windham may have been more widespread than we know,” Porter told the House Election Laws Committee Wednesday. The amended bill Porter presented would require that these machines kick out any ballot that appears to have votes for too many candidates for a single office. “Our machines can be programmed at no additional cost to reject the ballot, much like that change machine returns the crinkled dollar you try to put in at the laundromat,” Porter said. This ballot would then be placed in an “auxiliary bin” to be hand-counted by local election officials after the polls have closed.

Full Article: A bill to reprogram automated voting machines has support from election officials

New Hampshire audit bill attracts charges, threats and conspiracies | Kevin Landrigan/The New Hampshire Union Leader

The legislative campaign for a forensic audit of the 2020 election in New Hampshire elicited wild charges, threats and conspiracy theories during a public hearing Wednesday. State Rep. Timothy Baxter, R-Seabrook, said he proposed that this audit (HB 1484) be paid for with donations or private nonprofit grants to rebut critics who said the cost to taxpayers would be too high. “Let me be clear: A majority of this state thinks either the 2016 or the 2020 election was stolen. Every voter in this country deserves nothing less than that and this would allow every person to know the truth,” said Baxter, a Republican candidate for a U.S. House seat in the 1st Congressional District. An independent third party would conduct the audit, which supporters acknowledge would have to be a hand recount. That’s because many of the memory cards inside automated voting machines used to record and count votes in 2020 were reprogrammed to report results of town or city elections last year.

Full Article: Voter audit bill attracts charges, threats and conspiracies

New Hampshire considers bills to audit 2020 election results | Holly Ramer/Associated Press

The 2022 campaign cycle is well underway in New Hampshire, but some voters are still pushing for reviews of the last election. Secretary of State David Scanlan on Wednesday defended the integrity of the state’s election procedures after angry activists demanded full or partial audits of the 2020 election. He said New Hampshire’s strength lies in its decentralized elections system, though he acknowledged the need to increase both training for local officials and transparency. “The system is not perfect. There are mistakes that are made, and when they are, people are held accountable,” he told the House Election Law Committee. “But that failure at an individual level does not translate into some type of major conspiracy or collusion to do something different with the actual election results. I have complete confidence in the way New Hampshire runs its elections.” Scanlan, who was promoted this month after the retirement of longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner, spoke at a public hearing on a bill that would require a statewide audit of the 2020 election. The committee also heard testimony on a similar bill that would require an audit of Merrimack County results. Rep. Tim Baxter, R-Seabrook, sponsor of the statewide audit bill, asserted that a majority of the state believes either the 2016 or 2020 elections were stolen. According to a UNH Survey Center poll, however, nearly two-thirds of New Hampshire voters believe Joe Biden won the last presidential election.

Full Article: ‘Give us back our state and give us back our sanity’ – NH considers bills to audit 2020 election results

New Hampshire: Spurred by election misinformation and skepticism, crowd urges lawmakers to outlaw ballot-counting machines | Casey McDermott/New Hampshire Public Radio

An effort to outlaw ballot-counting machines in New Hampshire elections drew dozens of supporters to the State House for a public hearing on Thursday, but the same proposal drew hesitation from election officials who said it was neither necessary nor practical. Those urging lawmakers to get rid of the state’s voting machines expressed deep skepticism about New Hampshire’s election systems and state institutions at large. Many said their doubts were reinforced by errors in the town of Windham’s 2020 machine count that were quickly corrected and later thoroughly investigated. At the same time, many also cited distorted statistics and other falsehoods to justify their claims that voting machines can’t be trusted to produce accurate results. For decades, only one model of vote-counting machine has been approved for use in New Hampshire elections. That device, the AccuVote OS, doesn’t connect to the internet and “predates modern network technologies,” according to an overview compiled by an outside expert. And right now, the state doesn’t mandate that cities or towns use any machines — it’s up to individual communities to decide. “The machines we use are the most basic of devices,” said Milford Town Clerk Joan Dargie, testifying on behalf of the New Hampshire City and Town Clerks Association. “They are only reading the marks on the ballot.” Dargie said forcing communities to go back to hand-counting would add too much extra labor for local poll workers who are already putting in 16 to 17 hours of work on Election Day. With machines in use, Dargie said her town, Milford, usually has about 200 volunteers working at the polls, and recruiting those volunteers is a persistent challenge for many communities; if they had to hand count, she estimates they’d need to find an additional 150 people.

Full Article: Crowd urges N.H. lawmakers to outlaw ballot-counting machines | New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire: Rochester latest community to see effort to remove vote-counting machines | Karen Dandurant/Fosters Daily Democrat

City officials received a petition to place a warrant article intended to eliminate the use of vote-counting machines in elections and to return to hand counts. However, City Manager Blaine Cox said the petition has no basis in law for the city. Cox said this is because Rochester does not use the town meeting form of government. It appears the proposal submitted in Rochester is similar to those submitted in some towns around the state, including Greenland, where the town’s voters overwhelmingly rejected the bid to eliminate voting machines. “The request to insert by petition a warrant article does not pertain to Rochester’s city form of government,” Cox said. However, state Sen. Jim Gray, R-Rochester, who is also a city councilor, said there is a way the question could be brought forward. He said Mayor Paul Callaghan could place the question on a city council agenda for a vote.

Full Article: Rochester NH community petitions to eliminate vote-counting machines

New Hampshire’s longtime guardian of its early presidential primary is stepping down | NPR

New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, who earned a national reputation as gatekeeper of the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary, announced Monday that he will retire in the coming days. Gardner has held the office since December 1976, when he was elected at the age of 28. He’s the longest-serving secretary of state in the nation. As the state’s chief election official, Gardner is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations around voting in New Hampshire. But it’s as chief defender of the state’s presidential primary that Gardner has earned his loudest praise — and criticism. At a press conference in his cramped State House office Monday, Gardner waved away a suggestion that he was stepping down for health reasons. He said Dave Scanlan, his current deputy, will serve as the interim secretary of state. “I know the office which I leave will be in good hands,” Gardner said.

Full Article: New Hampshire’s longtime guardian of its early presidential primary is stepping down : NPR

New Hampshire town rejects bid to ban use of voting machines | Associated Press

A New Hampshire town has resoundingly rejected a proposal to ban the use of voting machines and return to counting ballots by hand. Voters in the town of Greenland on Saturday defeated a citizen petition that would have stopped the use of voting machines in all local, state and federal elections. Seacoastonline.com reports the vote was 1,077 against to 120 in favor of the proposal. Town Clerk Marge Morgan told the news outlet that turnout was higher than expected and officials had to print more ballots. Greenland has a little over 4,000 residents, according to the 2020 U.S. Census. Similar attempts to ban voting machines are under way in Hampton and Kensington, and a bill calling for a statewide ban was filed in the Legislature.

Full Article: New Hampshire town rejects bid to ban use of voting machines

New Hampshire State Commission approves standards for new voting machines | Kevin Landrigan/New Hampshire Union Leader

The state Ballot Law Commission on Tuesday approved standards that would one day permit a different automated voting machine than the one used in most New Hampshire cities and towns for decades. In the interim, the commission voted unanimously to let the town of Milford test one of the new devices during municipal and school board elections in the spring. As part of the pilot program, Milford will have to conduct a hand recount of all ballots counted with the new machine and report to the commission on its accuracy. ‘This would allow a test of this device, let Milford use it in an election that isn’t as complicated,” said Chairman Bradford Cook. The commission decided to take up the issue of new voting machines only after the Milford Board of Selectmen voted last September to seek permission to use a different device. Milford Town Moderator Pete Basiliere and Town Clerk Joan Dargie told the commission it was an ideal time for the town to try new technology. “While the AccuVote machines are highly accurate, we are concerned about the long-term availability of parts and programming,” they wrote. “With the commission’s approval, we will have four elections before the 2024 Presidential Primary to work with the new tabulators.” In 2022, Milford will be using an ImageCast machine — made by Dominion Voting Systems of Denver — which is sold, serviced and maintained by LHS Associates of Salem.

Full Article: State Commission approves standards for new voting machines

New Hampshire: Fraud narrative drives attempts to change election law | Rick Green/Concord Monitor

Major changes would be required in the way New Hampshire conducts elections under bills proposed by Republican state legislators, many of whom have questioned the integrity of the last statewide vote. Perhaps the biggest change would come under House Bill 1064, sponsored by Rep. Mark Alliegro, R-Campton, which would require every ballot to be counted by hand. A total of 814,000 votes were cast in last year’s election, and 80 percent of the ballots were tallied by optical scan machines. About one-third of the state’s municipalities count by hand. Other legislative proposals seek to strengthen enforcement of election law, alter existing residency requirements, change the voter ID process and seek election audits. Optical scan devices have been used by many states for decades and are judged reliable by the secretary of state’s office. In instances where voting machines are used, a voter marks the ballot and inserts it into the scanner. The paper ballot is retained in case of a recount. No widespread problems have been reported with these devices, but Alliegro said the electronic vote count was off by several percentage points in some towns. He declined to provide specifics. Ten New Hampshire legislators, all Republicans, are sponsoring the bill, which would prohibit the use of computers, scanners, or other electronic devices to count and tally ballots. No estimate has been made on how much more it would cost to count all votes by hand.

Full Article: Fraud narrative drives attempts to change NH election law

New Hampshire: Hampton selectman joins effort to remove voting machines | Patrick Cronin/Portsmouth Herald

Petitions are circulating to get rid of all electronic voting tabulation machines in Hampton and in other cities and towns in New Hampshire. Those pushing the petitions say their goal is to ensure “integrity” in future elections. Selectman Regina Barnes is behind the Hampton effort, saying it is being done in conjunction with the nonprofit political citizen group Marigold Coffee Club as part of its “Remove the Machines” campaign. “This is actually a statewide effort,” said Barnes, who is a team leader for the group in Hampton. “Marigold Coffee Club is doing it and in Hampton we are also doing a warrant article for Town Meeting.” Barnes went before the town’s Board of Selectmen last week requesting they call for a special Town Meeting to ask voters if they want to return to hand-counting paper ballots for all town, state and federal elections. The board voted 4-1 Monday against it citing they needed more information. Selectmen Chairman Rusty Bridle noted a citizen requested special Town Meeting would require a petition signed by 5% of registered voters while a regular March Town Meeting petition would require 25 resident signatures for a question to be placed on the ballot.

Full Article: Hampton selectman joins effort to remove NH voting machines

New Hampshire showed how to audit an election properly | Sarah Salem/The Washington Post

Pennsylvania is barreling toward a hyperpartisan, divisive election audit, not unlike the one in Maricopa County, Ariz. But there’s a way to carry out an ethical audit, election experts say. Just look at how New Hampshire did it. Verified election experts, a transparent process and bipartisan support marked a recent audit conducted in New Hampshire after a discrepancy in a state legislative race. That audit serves as an example of a bipartisan, “ethical” audit, antithetical to the one carried out in Maricopa County, said David Levine, an advisory committee member for the Global Cyber Alliance’s Cybersecurity Toolkit for Elections. “[New Hampshire] brought in some genuine election experts who understood election security and integrity, and then they conducted a very transparent bipartisan process that was spurred on by bipartisan-supported election legislation,” Levine said. One of those experts who conducted the New Hampshire audit was Philip Stark. Stark calls the Maricopa County audit a “fishing expedition,” in contrast to New Hampshire’s “forensic audit” that engendered widespread public confidence in the process. “The New Hampshire audit was a forensic audit in the sense that there was a known problem,” he said. “That’s not what happened in Maricopa. There was no evidence that anything was wrong.” 

 

Full Article: New Hampshire showed how to audit an election properly – The Washington Post

New Hampshire Attorney General and Secretary of State Offer Mixed Response to Windham Auditors’ Proposed Election Reforms | Casey McDermott/New Hampshire Public Radio

The team running the closely-watched audit of election irregularities in Windham’s 2020 state representative race put forward a series of proposed reforms to help avoid the same problems in future elections. But the New Hampshire Attorney General and Secretary of State aren’t on board with all of those changes. Top state election officials say some of the auditors’ suggestions would be too burdensome to implement and others might violate voters’ privacy. They outlined their responses to the audit in this report. One major disagreement revolves around flagging ballots that can’t be properly read by the machines. New Hampshire doesn’t have a system to let voters know if their ballot appears to have too many marks on it when it’s fed into a ballot counting machine at the polls on Election Day. Auditors say enabling this kind of “overvote notification” wouldn’t have prevented the issues in Windham, but it would have identified the problem much sooner. Through their investigation, auditors determined that Windham’s ballot counting devices miscalculated the vote totals in its state representative race by misinterpreting creases in folded absentee ballots as valid votes.

Full Article: N.H. Attorney General and Secretary of State Offer Mixed Response to Windham Auditors’ Proposed Election Reforms | New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire: Windham emails provide window into election distrust | Michaela Towfighi/Concord Monitor

In a small white building, with green shutters to match the door, six binders with thousands of emails tell a story of outrage and distrust in an election system. The aftermath of a recount, forensic audit and sheer uproar over the November election still ring through this southern New Hampshire town as the state continues to release reports on how Windham got its election results wrong. The State of New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission released a final report last week on how three Republican candidates, who won the election, were shortchanged about 300 votes apiece. “The commission finds that the discrepancies in Windham in November, 2020 were the result of a unique set of circumstances, not the result of malfunctioning of the ballot counting devices, and are not likely to reoccur,” the report reads. The commission reaffirmed the results of the recount and offered an explanation for why Democrats were initially given more votes than deserved. Folds in the ballots interfered with the scanner’s ability to correctly read the ballots. The machines often misread the fold as a vote for a Democrat, but in some cases that meant a vote for four candidates vying for three State Representative seats, which invalided the ballot. Hand counting revealed the true totals, according to the commission. “The commission finds that the presently authorized AccuVote machines are capable of continuing to meet the requirements for elections held in New Hampshire,” the report concludes. Still, separating fact from fiction regarding the November election continues to be a point of debate.

Full Article: Windham emails provide window into election distrust

New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission endorses Windham election audit report, says discrepancy was due to ‘unique set of circumstances’ | John DiStaso/WMUR

The state Ballot Law Commission on Monday endorsed the findings of a team of experts that conducted a forensic audit of the results of the November 2020 state representatives’ election in Windham. The BLC, a panel established by statute to address election disputes and controversies, noted that the auditors found the 300-vote discrepancy between the Election Day totals and the recount totals was caused by improperly machine-folded ballots. The panel noted that the auditors found no evidence that the AccuVote counting machines used in Windham or elsewhere in the state “showed any indication of malfunctioning during the election.” “It is apparent from testimony and the audit report that the AccuVote machines in the town and statewide appear to operate properly, are capable of performing the task for which they have been certified, and there is no specific or widespread malfunctioning of the machines,” the commission wrote in a report. “The machines appear to be capable of continuing to perform properly. “The Commission finds that the discrepancies in Windham in November, 2020 were the result of a unique set of circumstances, not the result of malfunctioning of the ballot-counting devices, and are not likely to reoccur.” The BLC’s report – along with a separate report due by the Attorney General’s Office and Secretary of State William Gardner – were mandated by the state law passed early this year that created the audit process following wide discrepancies between the Election Day tally of the state representatives’ race and a hand recount.

Full Article: Ballot Law Commission endorses Windham election audit report, says discrepancy was due to ‘unique set of circumstances’

New Hampshire: The Price Tag to Audit Windham’s Election: $123,000 And Counting | Casey McDermott/New Hampshire Public Radio

The recent effort to investigate a nearly 400-vote discrepancy in Windham’s 2020 election results is poised to cost the state at least $123,000. But it’s not entirely clear how those and other outstanding expenses will be paid for, since the law authorizing the audit didn’t include any funding. “We knew it was going to be expensive,” Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards said. “We didn’t know what the total was going to be, and we still don’t know what the total is.” The $123,000 total so far includes broadcasting, security and facility expenses related to a three-week, in-person audit hosted at a New Hampshire National Guard facility in May. It doesn’t yet factor in any payments to three outside auditors who oversaw that process. It also doesn’t include other lingering technology and personnel expenses, so the final bill could be even higher. Once all of the invoices are in, Edwards said the Attorney General’s office plans to submit requests to the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee and the Executive Council to cover the costs. “When you’re hiring three experts to do this kind of work and you’re spending essentially three weeks in a facility with people working from eight o’clock in the morning until six, six-thirty, seven o’clock at night, that’s going to add up quickly,” Edwards said.

Full Article: The Price Tag to Audit Windham’s Election: $123,000 And Counting | New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire: Windham audit blames discrepancy on folded ballots | Kevin Landrigan/New Hampshire Union Leader

The discrepancy found in Windham’s state representative races last November was caused by folds in mailed absentee ballots being misread by ballot-counting machines, not by partisan misbehavior, the forensic audit team concluded. In its 121-page report released Tuesday, the three-man audit team sought to put to rest suspicions about the 300-vote gains all four Republican candidates achieved after a hand recount of the Nov. 3 ballots. “We found no basis to believe that the miscounts found in Windham indicate a pattern of partisan bias or a failed election,” wrote Harri Hursti, Mark Lindeman and Phillip Stark, the three auditors chosen by the state and the town to conduct the review. In the first count on the night of Nov. 3, Republican Julius Soti won the fourth state representative seat by 24 votes over Democrat Kristi St. Laurent. But Soti’s win grew to 420 votes after a Nov. 12 hand recount requested by St. Laurent. All four GOP candidates picked up roughly 300 votes apiece, while St. Laurent’s vote total dropped by about 100 after the hand recount.

Full Article: Windham audit blames discrepancy on folded ballots

New Hampshire: Windham election audit team submits report | Callie Patteson/Yahoo News

A highly anticipated report about an audit of the 2020 election in Windham, New Hampshire, has been submitted to officials in the state. One of the auditors, Harri Hursti, confirmed to the Washington Examiner on Monday that his team “submitted it yesterday,” more than six weeks after the audit concluded. The team’s findings may become public as early as Tuesday. The portion of the audit that included the handling of ballots concluded on May 27. However, the audit team’s work did not stop there. “Now, we have captured the data,” Hursti told observers at the time. “Now, we have to go back to do the analysis, and there might be something in the data, which we now have, which we haven’t yet understood.” The three-person audit team — made up of Hursti, Mark Lindeman, and Philip Stark — initially found that as many as 60% of ballots with machine-made or handmade folds were improperly counted by scanning machines rendered by the town Windham. The ballot papers were made correctly, but the problem was due to the machines “forcefully” folding the paper in the wrong position.

New Hampshire Election Audit, part 2 | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

In my previous post I explained the preliminary conclusions from the three experts engaged by New Hampshire to examine an election anomaly in the town of Windham, November 2020. Improperly folded ballots (which shouldn’t have happened) had folds that were interpreted as votes (which also shouldn’t have happened) and this wasn’t noticed by any routine procedures (where either overvote rejection or RLAs would have caught and corrected the problem)–except that one candidate happened to ask for a recount. At least in New Hampshire it’s easy to ask for a recount and the Secretary of State’s office has lots of experience doing recounts.

Full Article: New Hampshire Election Audit, part 2

New Hampshire Election Audit, part 1 | Andrew Appel/Freedom to Tinker

Based on preliminary reports published by the team of experts that New Hampshire engaged to examine an election discrepancy, it appears that a buildup of dust in the read heads of optical-scan voting machines (possibly over several years of use) can cause paper-fold lines in absentee ballots to be interpreted as votes. In a local contest in one town, preliminary reports suggest this caused four Republican candidates for State Representative to be deprived of about 300 votes each. That didn’t change the outcome of the election–the Republicans won anyway–but it shows that New Hampshire (and other states) may need to maintain the accuracy of their optical-scan voting machines by paying attention to three issues:

  • Routine risk-limiting audits to detect inaccuracies if/when they occur.
  • Clean the dust out of optical-scan read heads regularly; pay attention to the calibration of the optical-scan machines.
  • Make sure that the machines that automatically fold absentee ballots (before mailing them to voters) don’t put the fold lines over vote-target ovals. (Same for election workers who fold ballots by hand.)

Everything I write in this series will be based on public information, from the State of New Hampshire, the Town of Windham, and the tweets of the WindhamNHAuditors.

Full Article: New Hampshire Election Audit, part 1

New Hampshire Election Audit Shows Machine Error Gave Extra Votes To Local Democrat; Determines No ‘Fraud,’ ‘Bias’ | Amanda Prestigiacomo/The Daily Wire

Machine-tabulated 2020 election results in Windham, New Hampshire, were likely different from a later hand-recount because of the way the town folded absentee ballots before they were delivered to voters, an election audit has determined. The ballot folds caused election-day totals to mistakenly exclude some votes and count extra votes for a local Democratic candidate. The group conducting the audit, which was called for after Democratic state House candidate Kristi St. Laurent lost her race and a recount revealed discrepancies in the vote totals, emphasized that “no evidence of fraud or political bias” was found. … Mark Lindeman, an auditor and co-director of Verified Voting, said the audit uncovered “no evidence of fraud or political bias,” and also said that he hadn’t heard “a credible hypothesis of how fraud could account for what we found.” Lindeman added that they “have no reason to think that it’s a statewide or national issue, although it’s certainly possible that it occurred in other localities.”

Full Article: NH Election Audit Shows Machine Error Gave Extra Votes To Local Democrat; Determines No ‘Fraud,’ ‘Bias’ | The Daily Wire

New Hampshire: Ballot Folds, Not Fraud, Likely Culprit At Center of Windham Election Audit. Now What? | Casey McDermott/New Hampshire Public Radio

After spending the last three weeks carefully recounting ballots, inspecting the vote counting machines and otherwise examining discrepancies in the 2020 election results for the town of Windham, auditors haven’t found any evidence of fraud or other intentional tampering. Instead, they’ve settled on a more mundane explanation for why the results of a hand recount of Windham’s state representative race veered so far from the results tallied at the polls on Election Night. Here’s what they learned, and what happens next. Windham’s problems hinge largely, it seems, on folds in its absentee ballots. When ballots were folded to fit inside official envelopes provided by the state, the crease ran through the bubble for Democratic candidate Kristi St. Laurent. And when those ballots were fed through a counting machine at the polls, the machines read the folds on some of them as votes for St. Laurent. That’s why she appeared to have more votes on Election Night than when her race was recounted by hand a week later. But the folds aren’t the only factor. There’s also the fact that humans and machines can read the same marks, on the same ballot, very differently. If a voter didn’t fill in the bubble for their preferred candidate correctly, a machine might not interpret that as a valid vote — but a person looking at the same ballot would likely catch that mark and recognize the voter’s intent. And if a voter appeared to fill in too many bubbles — or, if the machine thought a voter filled in too many bubbles, because one of the bubbles had a fold line through it — it could also throw off the machine count.

Full Article: Ballot Folds, Not Fraud, Likely Culprit At Center of Windham Election Audit. Now What? | New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire Auditors Find No Fraud in Disputed Windham Election | Michael Casey/NBC Boston

There is no evidence of fraud or political bias in a controversial New Hampshire election where a recount and audit has drawn the interest of former President Donald Trump, auditors concluded Thursday. Rather, auditors investigating the election in the town of Windham believe a folding machine used by the town to try to accommodate the numbers of absentee ballots in the November election is responsible for mistakenly adding to vote counts for candidates in four legislative seats. “We found no evidence of fraud or political bias,” Mark Lindeman, one of the three auditors and the acting co-director of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, said. “I have heard no one actually articulate a credible hypothesis of how fraud could account for what we found.” The town used the machine to fold the absentee ballots before sending them to voters. After they were returned, the ballots were fed into a counting machine. Because the folds on some ballots went through a Democrats name, the ballot was either not counted or a vote was wrongly given to the Democrat. The audit, mandated by the legislature and started earlier this month, finished Thursday. It was called by lawmakers from both parties after a recount requested by a losing Democratic candidate in one of the legislative races showed the Republicans getting hundreds more votes than were originally counted. No matter the audit findings, the results won’t change. The discrepancy drew the attention of Trump and his supporters in their effort to find evidence of his wider claim of election fraud from 2020. Trump’s cheerleading of skeptics in Windham shows how his search for evidence to support his false claims of election fraud have burrowed into American politics, even at the local level.

Full Article: Windham, NH Recount: Election Audit Begins Tuesday – NBC Boston

New Hampshire auditors see no sign of fraud — as Trump claims otherwise | Sara Murray/CNN

Outside a nondescript building, guarded 24/7 by state troopers, the leaders of Windham’s election audit field questions on the type of tape they’re using to seal boxes, why the livestream briefly failed and whether any ballot boxes have gone missing. Unlike audits of 2020 election results that have popped up in Arizona and Georgia, New Hampshire’s audit arose from a tangible gap in vote tallies in a race for state representative. Auditors have said their early assessment reveals no sign of fraud and instead points to human errors that they don’t believe are pervasive statewide. Even so, the bipartisan audit has become a flashpoint in this small town. And some conservatives are clinging to claims that the issue in Windham could point to broader election integrity problems throughout New Hampshire or even beyond. Harri Hursti, an expert in electronic voting security and part of the three-man team leading the audit, said he’s been surprised at the level of “malicious misinformation” swirling around the audit. “I’m a little bit surprised at the level of confusion and the level of deliberate trolling,” Hursti said. “The level of this is more than I expected. Nevertheless, we have to get the truth out. We have to make sure that people have the facts.” While the Windham audit wraps up this week, the 2020 election conspiracy theories are sure to persist. Among those amplifying them: former President Donald Trump and his allies. In a statement Monday night, Trump seized on the errors auditors are uncovering in New Hampshire and then claimed — without any supporting evidence — that Democrats were somehow behind it.

Full Article: New Hampshire auditors see no sign of fraud — as Trump claims otherwise – CNNPolitics

New Hampshire: Windham audit finds no fraud or evidence voting machines were tampered with | Kevin Landrigan/New Hampshire Union Leader

A forensic audit of automated vote counting machines in Windham revealed no evidence of fraud or tampering with those devices, officials said Thursday. The work of the first-ever audit of a New Hampshire election ended Thursday with the team standing by its initial finding that folds made in paper ballots were the major contributor to a wide discrepancy between results that were reported on election night and a hand recount done nine days later in local House races. On Tuesday, audit team member Harri Hursti began the process of examining in detail the four AccuVote machines used to process ballots in the town. “All the machines were matched. The content was exactly the same,” Hursti said. The state law ordering the audit required that the team’s initial work be completed by Thursday. State officials moved the boxes of paper ballots Thursday from the Cross Training Center on the New Hampshire National Guard campus in Pembroke to the New Hampshire State Archives Building in Concord.

Full Artifcle: Windham audit finds no fraud or evidence voting machines were tampered with | Voters First | unionleader.com

New Hampshire: Evidence, testing point to borrowed folding machine as source of Windham vote issues | Adam Sexton/WMUR

There is growing evidence showing that fold lines on absentee ballots from a borrowed mechanical folding machine were likely a major contributing factor to vote discrepancies in the 2020 election in Windham. The audit of the November 2020 vote in Windham has entered its final days, and independent auditors are increasingly confident they are closing in on the cause of wild fluctuations in vote totals in the town’s race for state representative. Independent auditor Harri Hursti said it appears to have started with Windham’s rush to accommodate unprecedented demand for absentee ballots. “They ran short of labor, they were behind schedule and they tried to speed up the process by borrowing a folding machine from the Department of Motor Vehicles,” Hursti said. According to Hursti, the borrowed machine was responsible for the fold lines observed on some ballots, running through the oval next to candidate Kristi St. Laurent’s name. Those lines left a bump in her vote target. “And that bump creates a shadow, and that shadow is the root cause of what has been causing the phantom votes,” Hursti said.

Full Article: Evidence, testing point to borrowed folding machine as source of Windham vote issues

New Hampshire: Folded ballots appear to be cause of Windham vote change | Kevin Landrigan/New Hampshire Union Leader

As many as 60% of ballots with hand or machine-made folds were improperly read by the four AccuVote optical scanning machines used in Windham in the 2020 election cycle, a forensic audit team member said Monday. “The error rate was way higher than we expected,” said Harri Hursti, one of the three auditors. Hursti said analysis has shown automated voting machines misread these ballots and this could explain why the count was inaccurate for both Republican and Democratic candidates for state representative. Critics have pointed to the discrepancy as evidence to back up claims the presidential election was tainted by inaccurate automated vote tallying. On Election Day, Republican Julius Soti finished fourth to take the last of four seats for state representative by 24 votes over Democrat Kristi St. Laurent. But Soti’s win grew to 420 votes after a Nov. 12 hand recount. The average of the votes tabulated from the four machines after the audit put Soti ahead of St. Laurent by 377 votes, 4,706 to 4,329. Hursti said the audit team has a theory for how the folds inflated St. Laurent’s total and undercounted the GOP votes that were actually cast.

Full Article: Folded ballots appear to be cause of Windham vote change | State | unionleader.com

New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office taking wait-and-see approach to fold glitch in vote scanning machines | John DiStaso/WMUR

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said Tuesday his office is taking a wait-and-see approach to the possibility that fold lines in absentee ballots may have caused scanning machines to misread the vote totals in the Windham state representatives’ election and that the problem could be widespread in the state. The forensic auditors investigating the discrepancy in the Election Day Windham vote totals and subsequent recount totals said Monday the AccuVote scanning machines in Windham may have misread fold lines that crossed through the oval vote “targets” as votes for Democratic candidate Kristi St. Laurent. She said her name happened to fall along the fold “most commonly.” Auditors said they had not reached a definitive conclusion on the question as of Monday but said that if the fold issue turns out to be the cause of the discrepancy, it could be a statewide concern. “Throughout New Hampshire, you’re using the same voting machines, the AccuVote, and in principle, it could be an issue,” auditor Phillip Stark told WMUR. “It really depends where the folds are in relationship to the vote targets.” The auditors said the matter would be tested extensively as the audit continued Tuesday and is expected to continue Wednesday. Scanlan told WMUR that about 200 polling places in the state – approximately two-thirds of the total number of polling places — use AccuVote scanners to count ballots, while about 100 polling places use paper ballots. n“I saw the comment (by the auditors) and at this point, it is speculation until they dig deeper into it,” Scanlan said. He said he and Secretary William Gardner are aware of the comments by the auditors.

Full Article: Secretary of State’s Office taking wait-and-see approach to fold glitch in vote scanning machines

New Hampshire: Voter machine audit comes up with new totals in Windham | Kevin Landrigan/New Hampshire Union Leader

The first review in the forensic audit of Windham election returns has produced different vote totals than were reported right after the Nov. 3 election. The four Republican candidates for state representative in Windham each got roughly 220 more votes through an audit of automated vote counting machines than reported on Election Day. Meanwhile, Kristi St. Laurent, the top-finishing Democrat, got about 125 fewer votes from the audit than announced Nov. 3. The audit of the four AccuVote machines used to count ballots in Windham wrapped up over the weekend. Volunteers began Monday the hand recounting of all ballots cast in the races for state representative, governor and U.S. senator. Mark Lindeman, a member of the three-person audit team, urged the volunteers to carefully examine ballots with fold lines in them as the automated voting machines improperly counted some of them as votes. “In some cases fold lines are being interpreted by the scanners as valid votes,” Lindeman said. “That’s something we especially want to encourage to look for at the table.”

Full Article: Voter machine audit comes up with new totals in Windham | State | unionleader.com