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Poll monitors keeping an eye out for voter fraud in N.H. 

  • Chip Fagan, from Millis, Mass., was a poll monitor in Bow on Election Day —Monitor staff

  • Susan Olsen, right, a Warner resident, has been a poll monitor for the state's Republican party for several years. Pictured with one of Warner's supervisors of the checklist Martha Thoits. —Monitor staff

  • Ken Bartholomew, of Warner, has been a poll monitor for the past three presidential election cycles. —Monitor staff

  • Democratic poll observers Van Lanckton of Newton, Massachusetts, right and Peter Beeson from Concord look out at Ward 7 on West Street in Concord Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Democratic poll observers Van Lanckton of Newton, Massachusetts, right and Peter Beeson from Concord look out at Ward 7 on West Street in Concord Tuesday. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Chip Fagan is a Willis, Mass. resident hanging out at the Bow polling location today. He’s not trying to commit voter fraud; rather, Fagan volunteered for the New Hampshire Republican Party to keep an eye out for it on Election Day.

So far, he’s impressed by the thoroughness and professionalism he’s seen.

“Everything here is pretty well organized,” he said. “They’ve got backup systems for backup systems. They’re really well organized, from the traffic direction to the set up. We want to make sure everyone has the chance to vote.”

Poll monitors stationed around Merrimack County have seen nothing they would describe as suspicious so far on Election Day. Ken Bartholomew, a Warner resident who has been a poll monitor before for the state’s Democratic Party twice before, said he was impressed by the town's ability to keep voters moving during the morning.

“It’s really important to clear out the long lines during the morning’s rush, because that can discourage people from voting,” he said. “They see that long line stretching around the building when they drive by, it can give them pause.”

Bartholomew said those appointed by their political party undergo an intensive three-hour training session on state voting laws before Election Day to better help them understand what they’re looking for. Long lines is definitely something to watch for, but making sure someone has their ID or that someone can vouch for them in the town is just as important.

“In a small town like this (Warner), someone can vouch for them pretty often,” he said.

Bartholomew can only recall one instance that caught his attention: four years ago, he said a young man was turned away because he would not sign an affidavit stating he lived in the town, although he swore he was a resident. His reason, according to Bartholomew, was that he had recently moved in with his girlfriend, who lived in Warner, but their parents did not know.

Fagan said he had a friend in the Republican party who told him he could cross state lines to monitor the process. One of the aspects of New Hampshire voting that stood out to him was that everyone is required to present an ID or sign an affidavit saying they are a resident of their town or city.

“In Massachusetts, you don’t have to present an ID, and here they have two people at each table, and they always look at the ID,” he said.

Most poll monitors are from the state’s Democratic or Republican official parties, but there are some candidate-affiliated observers at the polls. Members of the Hillary for New Hampshire campaign were identified at Hopkinton and Bow, and declined to speak to the press. The monitors in Bow were indentified as Ronna Wise and Sara Crisp, according to Bow moderator Peter Isme.

According to Julie McClain, a spokesperson for Hillary for NH, their party’s resources are mostly focused on “get out the vote” efforts, such as canvassing and phone banking, to make sure people are informed about the voting process. She said she was not familiar with how poll monitors for the Clinton campaign were trained, and said it was “standard protocol” to have press inquires go to her.

So how can you spot a poll monitor today?

Bruce Ellsworth, moderator for Hopkinton, said monitors appointed by their political party have to present a letter as proof of their appointment. Seating is provided for monitors to observe the polling clerks, although they are also free to stand. No electioneering is allowed; some monitors are sporting yellow stickers as a way to identify them.

“They’re free to observe quietly,” Ellsworth said, who noted there have been no problems so far. “That’s the law.”