Americans may have a reason not to trust New Hampshire as the barometer it has become for the viability of presidential candidates. The reason? Doubts about the security of the state’s voting system.

Historically, the New Hampshire primary has been a central factor in the selection of presidential candidates. A good performance here can catapult contenders to the front of the field while a bad one has brought the campaigns of one-time frontrunners to a screeching halt.

The people of New Hampshire are aware of the important role they play. Taking into account the Granite State’s size and population, no other group of Americans gets to know the presidential candidates better. In this election cycle, Republican candidates visited New Hampshire more than 300 times and spent nearly 600 days there.

But in spite of the state’s significance, it seems that New Hampshire’s government is not doing all it can to ensure the integrity of their “first-in-the-nation” primary.

The state principally uses AccuVote optical scanners, which means that voters fill out a paper ballot that is then scanned and counted by a computer. However, a few jurisdictions – mostly smaller ones – still count ballots by hand. In 2008, there were discrepancies in both parties’ primaries. Tallies for Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Mitt Romney on the Republican side were consistently higher when machines did the counting, and lower when humans did. In 2012, Romney again got a bump in machine-counted districts.

These discrepancies may have perfectly legitimate explanations. In 2008, a partial recount on the Democratic side uncovered nothing suspicious. On the Republican side, Romney and the big business policies he promoted might be expected to do better in cities than in rural districts.

Without Checks, Foul Play Cannot Be Ruled Out

Yet without further investigation foul play cannot be ruled out. After all, New Hampshire often holds the keys to the kingdom for nominees, and voting machines have notoriously bad security. With billions of dollars now being spent on presidential elections — and with the ultimate power in the land at stake — would it be surprising if a campaign or a Super PAC or other interested party tried to gain an advantage through tampering with voting machines?

And that’s why concerned citizens of the Granite State are petitioning their government to make some simple fixes that could ensure this important primary is won by the candidate who actually receives the most votes. However, the state government does not appear to be responsive to the concerns of its citizens. Why?

“We have a duty to our state, the country and even the world to get the count right in New Hampshire,” Deborah Sumner, who has been an activist on this issue for nearly a decade, told WhoWhatWhy. “Our system lacks the checks and balances that the people of New Hampshire deserve as well as the candidates.”

A Simple Solution

The solution, Sumner and others claim, is simple. If all jurisdictions with voting machines would do a parallel hand count, then there would be no doubt about the outcome.

Wally Fries, a former election moderator for the city of Danville, pioneered this type of verification method. He explained to WhoWhatWhy that the parallel hand count simply consists of cross-checking the results in a few select races. If the hand count for this sample matches the machine result, then election officials can be virtually certain that no foul play is involved.

“All machines are subject to error,” said Fries, who managed engineers for a living and therefore has a lot of expertise in the area. That is why, during his 25 years as election moderator, he set out to create a verification protocol that is virtually foolproof.

“I wanted to create a mechanism so that voters could have complete confidence,” he said.

In fact, all election moderators in New Hampshire have the right to order this type of verification. Or at least they used to, according to a 2010 directive that gave moderators broad discretion to initiate procedures they deemed necessary to ensure a fair count.

Recently, Sumner and others charge, state officials have discouraged some jurisdictions from using the parallel hand count.

Last year, residents of the city of Keene even sent a letter to Stephen LaBonte, the assistant attorney general in charge of election law, asking if the 2010 directive was still valid. LaBonte never responded. He also did not reply to an inquiry from WhoWhatWhy.

This unresponsiveness is one of the many reasons Sumner lacks faith in the state’s voting system. She feels too many officials value the convenience that voting machines provide over the accuracy of a hand count verification. She does have faith in the moderators, however.

A Firewall against Tampering

Elected by their local jurisdiction, New Hampshire moderators play a crucial role in the primary process, which represents an important stream of revenue for the state. Moderators put in long hours during election season and get paid next to nothing, Peter Webb, a moderator and attorney, told WhoWhatWhy.

Prior to the election, they test the voting machines and count the ballots received from the state. “Election Day is at a minimum a 6:30 AM to 9:30 PM shift, without break, for the volunteer election workers,” Webb said. Among their responsibilities are ensuring that all laws are adhered to, that the seals of the voting machines haven’t been broken, that only registered voters with the right type of ID cast ballots, that write-in votes are counted and, at the end of the day, that the numbers add up and that the ballots are boxed, sealed and safeguarded.

“We have conducted random arbitrary hand counts in the past and in each case determined that our machine count was accurate,” said Webb. “I don’t believe that [after their long day] the election officials have either the physical energy or remaining cognitive capacity to then hand count all the ballots to verify the results. An army of fresh volunteers might… do so, but practical realities such as the availability of volunteers, time constraints, human error, purity of the process, the need for finality can make that impractical.”

Fries, however, noted that even in his large jurisdiction, the parallel hand count never took more than an hour and it allowed all involved to go home knowing that the election had been properly conducted.

Everyone WhoWhatWhy spoke to for this article praised the many Granite State election volunteers. Sumner pointed out that they all swear an oath of office on Election Day. “The computer has not taken an oath and the people programming it have not,” she added.

Without the cross-checking process of the parallel hand count, Sumner believes the New Hampshire vote can be manipulated.

“It’s easy to exploit a New Hampshire election,” she told WhoWhatWhy. For example, memory cards in the machines could be switched out or software could be written in a way that allows an AccuVote machine to function perfectly during the pre-election test but then to skew the results of the actual voting.

Sumner likened this to the Volkswagen software that allowed cars to perform one way during emissions tests and another when on the road.

She would also want ballots to be made available to the public but Fries does not believe that is a good idea. In small jurisdictions like those found in New Hampshire that would make it too easy for a large employer to instruct employees to vote a certain way and mark their ballots so that their boss would know they had done as told.

Barring a parallel hand count, Sumner says she cannot be certain that the vote will be clean. To do her part, she has alerted the campaigns of Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Rand Paul of potential problems. Only Clinton’s people got back to her. Still, Sumner hopes that the others are putting pressure on New Hampshire officials through back channels.

When asked what would be a red flag for her that the voting had been rigged, she said:

“If Bush pulls an upset.”

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story indicated that Sumner and others would want ballots to be made available to the public prior to the election. What they want is access to the ballots after the election to verify the machine count.

print
0 0 votes
Article Rating
7 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
FMHenry
FMHenry
4 years ago

Our “30 Full Voting Rights”

The casting and counting of our votes is uncertain because we do

not have our 30 Full Voting Rights.

Lets look at our “30 FULL Voting Rights”….

As you know our country is 240 years old and no voter

in any of our 50 states has their “30 FULL Voting Rights”

regardless of the voter’s personal and/or political

persuasions.

History:

(1) Men were given some undefined voting rights since

the founding of our country… but, full voting rights

were not defined.

(2) In 1920 it was decided to let women vote… but,

full voting rights were not granted/defined.

(3) In 1965 the Voting Rights Act (VRA) was enacted to

purportedly provide voting rights to many minority

folks… but, only about 7 of the 30 full voting rights

are barely mentioned in the VRA.

(4) Today the average voter knows of 4 of the 30 full

voting rights:

1) register to vote…

2) get ballot on election day…

3) mark ballot in secret (in a booth)…

4) place ballot in ballot box or voting machine..

What are the “30 FULL Voting Rights”….

Here is a list of the many components/rights of

each individual’s “Full Voting Rights”, the some

30 rights are:

” FULL VOTING RIGHTS ”

1) Districts of equal number of electors.

An elector is a US citizen age 18 and up who’s

voting rights has not been suspended.

2) Registration by US citizens only, age 18 and up

( note; the citizen has the right to register

or not to register … no one shall be allowed

to ‘automatically’ register any voter).

3) Registration list 100% open to public view on-line.

4) There shall be equal requirements for placing

candidates name on the ballot by the individual

candidate only. Political parties and other

groups shall not be allowed to place names of

candidates on the ballot. The government (fed,

state, local) shall conduct only one election,

that is the government will not conduct primaries,

run-off elections, top two elections etc other

than the general election itself. Government may

hold special election to fill vacancies as may be

required. The winner of each race is the person who

receives the most votes cast. A tie shall be resolved

by a Verify hand count and if this count results

into a tie, the tie can be resolved by “flip of coin”

or other non-skilled chance process. All candidates

shall be given one line under his/her name to place

their party affiliation or short message/slogan.

Number of spaces/characters for this one line shall

be per election laws/procedures. All elections for

offices (fed, state, local) shall be based on one

person per district…there shall be no two or more

persons at-large type districts.

5) Equal requirements for placing questions on ballot.

6) All write-in-votes to be honored, counted (and not

bound to a gov pre-ordained list). (If write-in receives

most/sufficient votes, he/she can , if a qualified

elector, wins.)

7) Campaigns:…Gov (fed, state, local) shall stay out

of campaigns.

8) Absentee and, Early voting…Yes. But, NO early

counting.

9) NO all mail voting.

10) NO on-line voting.

11) Bring ALL unopened absentee/early ballots to

precinct polling place on election day.

12) Precincts shall consist of 3000 or less

registered voters.

13) Precinct polling place should be kept at a

constant location.

14) Precinct polling place shall be near the

voter…not 50 miles away from the where voters live.

15) Precinct workers shall be local volunteers and/or

drafted (similar to jury duty).

16) Test/Seal voting machines (if used) shall be open

to public observation.

…….(Election Day):

17) Allow qualified electors/voters to check-in.

18) Allow qualified electors/voters to receive a

paper ballot.

19) Allow voter to mark their ballot in secret in

a ‘closed’ booth.

20) Allow voter to place their ballot into ballot

box or ballot machine.

…….(End of Election Day):

21) CLOSING COUNT by hand or machine and perform

closing reports..

22) Get, signed by election workers, print-out-reports

from machines (if used).

23) Close/seal machine (if used).

24) Perform a VERIFY COUNT hand count of every

vote on every ballot before the CLOSING COUNT

team goes home by a Verify team or the Closing

team, looking for voter’s intent, generate

verification tally sheets and reports containing

results and error rate info..

25) Release official count results to the public.

…….(Recounts):

26) Any registered voter may request for recount.

27) Automatic recount of close positions if the margin

is at (0.5% plus error rate) or less.

28) Recount cost shall be covered by election budget.

29) Refundable fee based on margin plus error rate may

be levied on the requester prior to the recount.

(Refund if outcome changes.) (Count all positions for

office race being recounted.)

30) Hand count only (looking for voter intent).

(Followed by verify hand count)

…….(MILESTONE CHALLENGEs/CORRECTIONs):

31) If any elector/voter spots an error at any

milestone event they have five work days to bring

challenge of the error to official of the milestone

or to court for corrective review and/or action.

The elector/voter shall not be charged any fees/cost.

…….(ELECTION CONTEST):

32) Any elector/voter/candidate/official is allow to

contest an election by bringing their case to a court;

and their cost shall be refunded/covered if and to

degree of win.

Notes:

1. This list is not cast in stone, you can add/change/

correct this list.

2. Right # 19: (says mark ballot in secret ) is the

ONLY ‘step’ closed to public view. All other rights/steps

shall be open to public observation by electors, voters,

press, the public…etc.

3. In right # 27 the phrase “error rate” means the error

rate, expressed in percentage that is indicated in the

Verification Report (right #24) or the historical high

which ever is the greater.

4. In right # 29 phrase “error rate”…same as note 3.

5. In right # 29 the word “margin” means the gap between

the two positions being requested of a recount expressed

in percentage.

6. When the “30 Full Voting Rights” are in place

two good things will occur. …. (1) All political

parties, campaigns, individuals, etc can promote their

choices on the ballot without interference from government

(fed, state, local). … And, (2) all voters will have

an election system that honors their “30 Full Voting

Rights” without interference from government, political

parties, campaigns, candidates, individuals, etc.

Thanks and Good Luck

Frank Henry

Full Voting Rights Advocate

Cottonwood, Arizona

Tel: 928-649-0249

e-mail: fmhenry4@netzero.com

Bryan King
Bryan King
5 years ago

Voter fraud has never been an issue in New Hampshire. As the vote tallying technology evolves and so do the procedures. However the weakest component in the voting process is always going to be human beings.

Disapointed William
5 years ago

I’ve been saying this for years, that we need to get a better system, but does anyone ever listen? Only the ones that can’t do any thing about it

FMHenry
FMHenry
5 years ago

To All Voters,

Voters should not have to beg for their votes to be verified
by a hand count. A Verify hand count of every vote cast on
every ballot is in fact Right number 24 of the “30 Full Voting
Rights” of each and every voter.

We need to encourage all voters, political parties, and elected
& appointed officials (fed, state, local) to fight for the enactment
of the “30 Full Voting Rights” of each voter in all 50 state. This
enactment needs to be in our constitutions (fed, states) and in
our election laws (fed, state, county,local).

The “30 Full Voting Rights” is each voter’s individual Full Voting
Rights regardless of the voter’s persuasions.

Thanks and Good Luck,
Frank Henry
Full Voting Rights Advocate
Cottonwood, Arizona
Tel: 928-649-0249
e-mail: fmhenry4@netzero.com

CAWS
CAWS
5 years ago

Don’t know about the primaries but I read that the final election will be counted by Microsoft programmed machines. Bill Gates & Hillary are tight and both in bed with Monsanto. Not good.

Virginia Martin
Virginia Martin
5 years ago

Excellent points. And a hand count is not that difficult to do. We do (nearly) full hand counts after every election in Columbia County, NY. They don’t take that long and they don’t cost that much. People are very happy to be part of the process–they enjoy the civic engagement–and they have absolutely no doubts that the results we certify are how the voters voted. People, including losing candidates, just want to know for sure that the winners really won and the losers really lost. And the vote count becomes one government activity that people can be really confident of. That’s priceless.

John Smith
John Smith
4 years ago

Military votes that were mailed on time but received late were discounted!!! Talk about cheating? And you libs want to cry because we want to have voter id?

John Smith
John Smith
4 years ago

NH trashed military votes to ensure a democrat would win another senate seat! Fact! Someone needs to pay!

Subscribe to the Daily WhoWhatWhy

Relevant, in-depth journalism delivered to you.
Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.