Windham moves forward into vote count audit

Julie Huss, The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.
·3 min read

Apr. 20—WINDHAM — The town is moving closer to getting answers about what happened with vote tally discrepancies after the general election last November, and will be putting experts in place to help support that mission.

On April 12, 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 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.

Selectmen are now considering individuals and companies that may be interested in participating as the town's designated representative in the forensic audit that, according to the recently passed bill, must be completed within 45 days of its passage.

Windham currently has four AccuVote machines that will be examined as part of the audit. All ballots will be run through all the machines used by the town during the Nov. 3 election.

A hand tally of ballots cast in town in the District 7 state representative race along with the race for governor and U.S Senate will also be part of the process.

And according to the language of the bill, the audit team will include "one person designated by the town of Windham, one person designated jointly by the offices of Secretary of State and attorney general and one person selected jointly by the designee of the town and the designee of the Secretary of State and attorney general."

An official report will follow.

Windham's Assistant Town Moderator Betty Dunn said she had questions about the audit process, including the logistics of the procedure and how the town will consider who they will choose to be the official audit designee.

"I think you should be asking these applicants these questions," Dunn told Selectmen at a meeting on Monday, "and how they envision this process to work out."

Selectmen agreed to make the process as transparent as possible and will continue the research to find the best company or persons to be involved.

"We know the eyes of the nation will be on us," said Selectman Bruce Breton, adding the process will be "as transparent as it can ever be."

The board will meet again April 26 in public session.

Anyone in the public with questions or suggestions as to who would be best to help support Windham during the audit can contact Town Administrator David Sullivan by April 23 at 4 p.m.