Audit results show consistency in counting methods

  • Orville “œBud”€ Fitch, legal counsel to the Secretary of State of New Hampshire, gets ready to feed ballots into the scanner at the NH Records and Archives building on Thursday afternoon. The hand counters of the ballots are in the backround. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Orville ‘€œBud’€ Fitch, legal counsel to the Secretary of State of New Hampshire, gets ready to feed ballots into the scanner at the NH Records and Archives building on Thursday afternoon, September 15, 2022. The hand counters of the ballots are in the backround. The long-tape Democratic numbers from Hopkinton totaled 783 but the Clear ballot count totaled 786. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Orville “Bud” Fitch, legal counsel to the Secretary of State of New Hampshire, holds up a ballot.

Monitor Staff 
Published: 9/16/2022 4:46:03 PM

A random audit of two polling locations in the state revealed no differences between ballots counted by a high speed scanner and those counted by hand, which New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan considered a success. 

“I think this will make some voters that may have doubts more confident in the system,” Scanlan said. “But there are some voters out there that will always believe elections should be hand counted and that we shouldn’t be using machines to be doing this work at all. I don’t think those minds will change during the process.”

The intent of the random recounts – Hopkinton and and Ward 1 in Laconia were selected – was to test the process of high speed scanners that will be used in the general election and check for discrepancies.

The audit revealed no discrepancies in Hopkinton between the high speed scanner and hand counted ballots, which both totaled 786 ballots. However, those totals were slightly off from the AccuVote machines typically used to count ballots in NH. For Democrats, AccuVote totaled 783, a difference of three ballots. On the GOP side, AccuVote totaled 573, which is a difference of one ballot. Laconia, Ward 1 results showed only matching numbers of ballots between all three counting methods. 

“The high speed scanning device used to conduct the audit matched very closely the results from the night of the election using the AccuVote machines,” Scanlan said. “We will move forward with the expanded use of the auditing devices for the general election.”

Based on the results, the audit team said the counting machines passed. 

The decision to implement post-election audits came in response to Republican attacks on the credibility of election results here and around the country. 

The Secretary of State’s office has long said it’s not necessary to have random audits after elections – partly because several recounts of close results are routinely requested – but that has changed. 

A new law mandated that two of the state’s more than 300 polling places were to be audited after the primary election, and four will be double-checked following the November general election. 

Raising concerns during a July meeting of the Special Committee on Voter Confidence, created by Scanlan this year, Ken Hajjar, who spent decades installing and maintaining AccuVote machines in the state, challenged opinions against machine counting. 

“The machine helps keep the process honest, that’s why they want to get rid of them,” he said. 

More than a dozen towns across New Hampshire had petitioned warrant articles at town meetings seeking to do away with ballot-counting machines, all of which were voted down. Some GOP state representatives put forward a bill during the last legislative session to mandate that all state elections be hand-counted but it was killed in committee. 




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