Sununu signs bill to move Windham vote audit forward

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Julie Huss, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
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Apr. 15—WINDHAM — The town is getting closer to potentially getting answers on what happened with vote tally discrepancies after the general election last November.

On Monday, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed SB 43 into law, authorizing a forensic audit of the Rockingham County District 7 race in Windham, where town vote counts showed major differences with a state recount of the vote in that state representative race.

"New Hampshire elections are safe, secure and reliable," Sununu said in a statement after signing the bill. "Out of the hundreds of thousands of ballots cast this last year, we saw only very minor, isolated issues — which is proof our system works. This bill will help us audit an isolated incident in Windham and keep the integrity of our system intact."

This comes after months of uncertainty due to a state recount of District 7 state representative votes from the Nov. 3 election that showed big discrepancies between the state and town vote tally.

Town vote counts gave the four Republican candidates running for District 7 state representative the top tallies and the win, but only 24 votes separated GOP candidate Julius Soti from Democrat Kristi St. Laurent, who then requested the recount, held Nov. 12.

The recount number changed considerably from the Windham totals, giving GOP candidates nearly 300 more votes each, but St. Laurent lost 99.

Election officials offered their views on what might have occurred and what's best for moving forward. Experts representing the town's voting machines also gave a presentation on what they do.

Windham currently has four AccuVote machines that will be examined as part of the audit.

"We take this alleged discrepancy that was found at the state recount extremely seriously," Town Clerk Nicole Bottai said in an earlier statement. "Our main priority is to get answers, and to get to the bottom of this important matter."

Bottai and other election officials have stood by the town's election process.

The audit will take place later this spring in Concord.