GST Supports SB 43 to Audit Windham Election Results.
After the November 2020 election for Windham, NH (Rockingham County District 7) Representative, the Democrat candidate Kristi St. Laurent requested a recount. The hand recount on 11/12/20 produced an average 300-vote increase for each of 4 Republican candidates and a 99 vote decrease for her. The outcome was unchanged by the recount, but the large discrepancy between the election (machine) count and the recount was unprecedented.
St. Laurent appealed the recount to the the Ballot Law Commission for an investigation into the discrepancy and it, as did the Town of Windham, requested that the Attorney General investigate the matter. Although the issue was described as a “machine count error”, pending an investigation, it wasn’t clear where the error lay. The then Attorney General Attorney opined that he didn’t have statutory authority to investigate under the terms of RSA 7:6(c): Enforcement of Election Laws.
The Secretary of State is responsible for recounts, but RSAs stipulate only one recount, with the winner declared as a result, both of which had been done. No statute specifically applied to an audit.
With concerns about machine count manipulation in 2020, an investigation was necessary.
Senate Bill 43 authorizes an audit of the Rockingham County District 7 State Representative race.
Sponsors: Senators Gannon, Avard, Bradley, Ricciardi, and Giuda, Reps Piemonte, Baldasaro and Welch.
SB 43 authorizes and directs a forensic election audit of the ballot counting machines and their memory cards, as well as the hand tabulation of ballots and certain races in the general election held in town of Windham on November 3, 2020.
The audit process shall be determined by a forensic election audit team with the purpose of generating a report which will include a finding as to whether the machine counting devices and memory cards functioned properly on November 3, 2020, and recommendations for improvement to the machine and hand processing.
The audit process shall include running all ballots through the counting machines used by the town of Windham on November 3, 2020, determining the total ballots cast, counted and received from the Secretary of State, and a hand tallying of all ballots cast in the Rockingham County District 7 state representative race and two statewide races.
The audit shall be live-streamed, and provisions are included in the amended bill for selecting the location, as well as transporting and securing the ballots.
The bill gives the necessary authorization to unseal the ballot boxes, and makes clear the audit results shall not alter the official results of the Rockingham County district 7 state representative race.
The audit is to be completed in 45 days from the bill’s effective date, and the forensic election audit team report must be filed with the Secretary of State, Town of Windham, and Ballot Law Commission 45 days after the completion of the audit.
Thereafter, a report of the Secretary of State and Attorney General shall be submitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, President of the Senate, and Town of Windham. Additionally, the Ballot Law Commission is required to issue a report.
SB 43 passed the NH Senate 24 to 0, and the House Election Law Committee 20 to 0.
The final step is a vote in the NH House of Representatives scheduled Wednesday, April 7, 2021.
Contact your Representatives and urge them to vote for SB 43.
Click here to find contact information for your Representatives and Senator.
Click here to read the text of SB 43.
Posted by GST Chairman Ray Chadwick