AP

Audit finds folds behind New Hampshire election miscount

Jul 13, 2021, 1:37 PM | Updated: 4:56 pm

FILE - In this May 11, 2021 file photo, election auditors Mark Lindeman, left, and Harri Hursti cat...

FILE - In this May 11, 2021 file photo, election auditors Mark Lindeman, left, and Harri Hursti catalog ballot boxes in Pembroke, N.H. after they arrived at the site of a forensic audit of a New Hampshire legislative election. Auditors concluded in a report released Tuesday, July 13, 2021, that miscounts in a New Hampshire election were caused by the way ballots were folded. (AP Photo/Josh Reynolds, File)

(AP Photo/Josh Reynolds, File)

Auditors concluded that miscounts in a New Hampshire election were primarily caused by the way ballots were folded, according to a report released Tuesday.

The audit, mandated by the legislature, was called by lawmakers from both parties after a losing Democratic candidate in a legislative race in the town of Windham requested a recount. That recount showed Republican candidates getting hundreds more votes than were originally counted.

The discrepancy drew the attention of former President Donald Trump and his supporters in their effort to find evidence of his wider claim of election fraud from 2020. Critics of the audit said before the report was finalized they felt it had not gone far enough to find the source of the miscount.

“I still have a lot of questions that have to be answered. I still have questions in my mind about the folds and a couple of other items,” Bruce Breton, a member of the Windham Board of Selectmen, said. “Are the folds the real reason for the miscount?”

A team of auditors, however, “found no basis to believe that the miscounts found in Windham indicate a pattern of partisan bias or a failed election.”

“Fundamentally, the large discrepancy between election night totals and both hand counts in the State Representative contest in Windham can be attributed to unforeseen consequences and misfortune,” the auditors Harri Hursti, Mark Lindeman and Philip Stark wrote. “Harried election officials borrowed a folding machine to send out thousands of absentee ballots more quickly, and votes on roughly 400 ballots were miscounted as a result.”

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.

Auditors said the problem was most likely limited to Windham, a claim echoed by by Secretary of State Bill Gardner. Ballots are sent to towns and cities with score marks to facilitate folding and the state ensures those marks don’t go through the ovals where votes are marked.

“It is not impossible that folds affected the outcome of some contest in the 400-seat New Hampshire House of Representatives, but we can conclude that Windham was not the tip of a massive miscount iceberg,” the auditors wrote. “Nonetheless, people’s votes must be counted accurately, so procedural reforms are warranted.”

Gardner has overseen 549 recounts in his 44 years as secretary of state, including 16 after the November elections. Those recounts involved 168,000 ballots — 22% of the total cast statewide — and 65 polling places.

The audit makes a series of recommendations including not folding ballots in the future, instructing election officials to fold ballots correctly, checking folds when opening absentee ballots, adding process controls that ensure all absentee ballots are counted and improving machine maintenance.

The Secretary of State’s and Attorney General’s offices received a copy of the report Monday. They will prepare their own report on the audit and any resulting recommendations.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

The U.S. Supreme Court is seen, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, in Washington. The U.S. Supreme Court has h...

Associated Press

Supreme Court decision on Trump’s election status could come Monday morning

A SCOTUS decision could come Monday in the case about whether Trump can be kicked off the ballot over his efforts to undo his 2020 defeat.

9 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley poses for a selfie after speakin...

Associated Press

Nikki Haley wins D.C. Republican primary, her first 2024 victory

Nikki Haley has won the Republican primary in the District of Columbia, notching her first victory of the 2024 campaign.

9 hours ago

An Apache group that has fought to protect land it considers sacred from a copper mining project in...

Associated Press

A US appeals court ruling could allow mine development in central Arizona on land sacred to Apaches

An Apache group that has fought to protect land from a copper mining project in central Arizona suffered a significant blow.

14 hours ago

On Friday, March 1, 2024, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said yogurt sold in the U.S. can ma...

Associated Press

Eating yogurt may reduce risk of type 2 diabetes, FDA says

Eating at least two cups of yogurt a week might reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.

16 hours ago

Arizona will not approve new housing construction on the fast-growing edges of metro Phoenix that r...

Associated Press

Arizona Senate passes plan to manage rural groundwater, but final success is uncertain

A plan to manage rural groundwater passed the Arizona Senate amid concerns about the availability of sufficient water for future generations.

3 days ago

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Canvas Annuity

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Audit finds folds behind New Hampshire election miscount