Rye vote counting machines, Select Board race endorsements and more in today's letters

David Scanlan, N.H. deputy secretary of state, said in three decades the state has been using the AccuVote machines, their experience is that they have been reliable.
·7 min read

Voting counting machines are accurate & impartial; vote NO on Rye article 23

Feb. 25 – To the Editor:

On March 8, Rye voters will be asked to vote yes or NO to Warrant Article 23 that attempts to ban our Voting Machines.

The issue of eliminating voting machines in the upcoming Rye elections has become quite emotional and the arguments against voting machines are very short on facts. That is unfortunate because the decision to use or not use voting machines has practical consequences in terms of future cost, time requirements and potential for human error (intentional or otherwise).

More: Rye latest to see effort to eliminate vote-counting machines

More: Greenland residents reject bid to eliminate vote-counting machines. It wasn't close.

Such an important decision should be based on facts. Here are a few.

Rye uses AccuVote-OS ballot counting machines, the only voting machines that are approved in NH by the Ballot Law Commission. These machines, used by over 70 city wards and over 100 towns throughout the state, are strictly vote tabulators; they have no other function. They are not connected to the internet and cannot be hacked into (by state order, the machine’s modem and hardware for reporting or receiving via the internet has been removed, sealed or disabled). The AccuVote-OS machine is time-tested technology, developed in 1986 and believed to have been first used in U.S. general elections in Minnesota in 1990.

Manual counting of votes poses a greater risk of fraud than mechanical scanning of ballots. An optical scanner counts what it sees. A person can count what they want to see. True, in the 1990s there were a few studies that indicated the election management software used by most optical scanner voting machines had a few vulnerabilities. This software, known as GEMS, was not shown to contribute to fraud, but there were apparently software vulnerabilities. These studies are often cited to support the argument that optical scanners should be eliminated. However, New Hampshire does not use GEMS for election results reporting.

Election programming for New Hampshire is done by a third-party service company, LHS Associates located in Salem, NH (source: NH Dept. of Justice website). If voters in New Hampshire are worried that votes are not being counted accurately, the answer is don’t eliminate time-saving optical scanners and revert to hand-counting of every ballot. The answer is to have a state law that establishes audit requirements.

A post-election audit checks that the equipment and procedures used to count votes during an election worked properly, and that the election yielded the right outcome. 34 states and the District of Columbia have a post-election audit requirement. New Hampshire does not. To quote from the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures: "Legislatures can decide whether or not to require post-election audits, and what kind of audit to use. While the phrase "post-election audits" can be used to mean a variety of election validation efforts, as a term of art it refers to checking paper ballots or records against the results produced by the voting system to ensure accuracy. Most audits look at a fixed percentage of voting districts or voting machines and compare the paper records to the result produced by the voting system. Even in a landslide election they will count the same number of ballots as they would in a nail-biter election."

In summary, there is no reason to believe that there is a problem with voting machines used by Rye (and many other municipalities), but for those who are worried and believe our Voting Machines are a problem, you are looking in the wrong place for a solution. Vote No to Warrant Article 23 on March 8th.

Roger Wiegley

Rye

Reject NH bills banning face masks in schools

Feb. 25 -- To the Editor:

Please do not support bills HB1131 and HB1371, just for the sake of political ideology. Sections II and III of HB1131 alone make it appear that political ideology and "right-ness" are more important than facts when the requirement of a mask for health reasons allows someone to bring civil suits and educator disciplinary action, which is only increasingly harmful, in the end, to students already poorly funded educations.

These bills are mandates in and of themselves and harmful to children like mine, who has a neurogenetic disorder (MECP2 duplication syndrome), that not only puts his lifespan at an average of 25 years, but does so due to pulmonary viruses or infections.

Children like mine deserve a safe school environment. Daily I see children wearing masks and the truth is they don't care. Let's not lie to ourselves that they do care about wearing masks because we want it to fit our adult political ideologies and need for "right-ness".

Here is a source of 49 scientific studies, mostly peer reviewed, proving that masks provide needed protection. The source has been checked on mediabiasfactcheck and demonstrated a high level of factual reporting and least biased reporting.

The decision you make today needs to be based on fact, truth and what's good for everyone in the educational communities of New Hampshire.

David Hudson

Portsmouth

Bill Epperson is a proven leader for Rye; re-elect him to Select Board

Feb. 25 – To the Editor:

I’m pleased to support Bill Epperson on his re-election to the Select Board. His leadership on the Board for the last three years, and his role as Chair, for the last year has been a great to the benefit to the Town of Rye. Our tax rate is one of the lowest in New Hampshire, and even as we emerge from pandemic and the economic disruption, our town is well-positioned to blossom in the years ahead. This does not happen by accident, it takes leadership, but even more so it takes experience.

More: Candidate Announcement: Bill Epperson for Rye Select Board

Bill brings a vast resume of service to the town. From his years on Planning Board, including six years where he served as Chair, to the various commissions and committees he has conducted himself with integrity and brought a thoughtfulness to discussions; ensuring a productive and ultimately successful outcome.

For nearly two years I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Bill in his capacity as the Select Board representative to the Heritage Commission. He is a valuable contributor and understands the concerns and projects of the Commission. He brings a fair-mind approach and takes the time to listen and understand the issues at hand.

He is forward-thinking but has also the experience to make visions a reality. I’m glad he is running for re-election. The Select Board is enhanced by his presence and so is the Town of Rye.

Phil Walsh

Rye

Putin's actions in Ukraine highlight danger of unchecked authoritarians

Feb. 25 – To the Editor:

Those of you who believe the big lie, rigged elections, government overreach with vaccinations and think your rights are being diminished by wearing a mask should look at Ukraine as the true example of everything your are complaining about! Imagine being forced from your home, sleeping in a bomb shelter, your home is abandoned, your access to your saving and investments are deleted or frozen, you are hungry, haven’t showered, your kids are crying and you are sleeping on a concrete floor. Wearing a mask or getting a vaccination doesn’t seem like such a big deal, does it?

Donald trump and his cronies attempted to decapitate the government on Jan 6. And if you listen to his current talking points he is still stirring the flames on conspiracies and rigged elections. Maybe disbanding NATO and sucking up to Putin and hollowing out the State Department and placing sycophants in the highest of government positions is your idea of how our government should work. Look at Ukraine to see in three dimensional reality what armed insurrection, invasion, and dictators who do rig elections and who have total control of a police state can do.

Vote for the GOP ticket and re-elect Trump if this is what you want . Oh, mask mandates seem to be ending because of the vaccinations and moderation of the COVID pandemic. What will you protest now?

Steve Little

Portsmouth

This article originally appeared on Portsmouth Herald: Rye NH vote counting machines and Select Board race and more: Letters