Why Jaffrey Must Return to Hand Counting to Protect Our Rights, Our Votes and Our Elections

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Deborah Sumner

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Sep 14, 2016, 10:50:28 AM9/14/16
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Note: This information has been shared with the Jaffrey Select Board. See end for description of "parallel hand count" procedure, which is compliance with spirit and intent of our election laws and NH Constitution and is currently used in an unknown number of communities to check the accuracy of the AccuVote computer)

Why Jaffrey Must Return to Hand Counting to Protect Our Rights, Our Votes and Our Elections

Summary: Jaffrey has chosen to follow the preference of the Secretary of State (see 5 below), not election laws consistent with NH CONST. pt. 2 art. 32 that protect our rights, votes and elections as some moderators/towns have chosen to do. (See “Parallel Hand Counts….” on reverse side.)

 1. Ballot Law Commission approved AccuVote upgrade in 2002 based on belief pre-election ballot testing showed the computer in compliance with Rule 608.01 (“adequate safeguards … to ensure the integrity of election results and complies with these rules and the election laws of the State of New Hampshire.”)

 2. Jaffrey Select Board chose to change from hand counting to computer-counted elections in 2003. 2003 Town Meeting approved purchasing the Diebold AccuVote, recommended by Select Board and Budget Committee. We were not told there would be continuing costs for programming by a private corporation.

 3. Ballots were removed from public records law in 2003 at the request of the Deputy Secretary of State. Amendment was attached to a bill required by federal law, but was not required by federal law.

 4. Ballot Law Commission approved upgrade in AccuVote in 2006 knowing the pre-election ballot testing didn’t ensure accurate results on election day, but saying “[Towns/Cities] choose to use this electronic machine if they want to. They don’t only have to use that. They can also hand count them.” (Chairman Gary Francouer, March 10, 2006)  According to Secretary of State, Rule 608,01 (1 above) expired in 2006.

 5. An unknown number of moderators conducted hand count checks of the computer prior to 2010, an unknown number did them in Nov. 2010. The Jaffrey moderator had planned to hand count one of the two federal races, chosen at random after the polls closed.

The NH Attorney General’s office confirmed twice that he could do this. “Moderators are given significant authority to determine what procedures at their polling place are necessary to ensure an accurate

count. “ (Assistant AG Matthew Mavrogeorge, Nov. 2, 2010 email)

The Deputy Secretary of State didn’t want him to (communication of Oct. 27, 2010) and moderator changed his mind. (See https://groups.google.com/forum/#!category-topic/jaffreyvoices/phojQS5wgzU Jaffrey Chronology 2010-2012  attachment, Ex. A at end

 6. Nov. 2010 Jaffrey ballots were reportedly destroyed before the 22-month required retention period and before a court could decide whether to grant a Jaffrey citizen’s request to review them.

 7. Neither the Attorney General’s Office nor Town of Jaffrey investigated the possibility of error in Nov. 2010 Jaffrey results and the possibility, based on evidence, the Deputy Secretary of State and someone in Jaffrey were involved. (See link in #5 above ,Jaffrey Chronology 2010-2012)

 8. In October 2015, the Jaffrey Select Board, was given evidence that using the AccuVote with no checks on its accuracy is not in compliance with the NH CONST. pt. 2 art. 32 and laws consistent with it or Ballot Law Commission Rule 608.01 re: approval. (See 1 and 4 above)

 9. Jaffrey selectmen, town clerk and moderator sign poll tapes after each election that say “We…certify that the election was conducted in accordance with the laws of the State.”

 10. In October 2015, the Jaffrey Select Board said it has no authority to enforce election laws that protect the rights of voters and candidates, our votes or our elections. Elections are controlled by the moderator and Secretary of State.


Parallel Hand Counts—Example of New Hampshire Common Sense

 Former Danville moderator Wally Fries always oversaw hand counting of 1-3 contests/ballot questions on election night to ensure an accurate computer count.

Why:

1. had worked with computers for years and knew there could be breakdowns and their reliability needed to be checked. As a member of several state advisory groups he also knew the pre-election ballot testing wasn’t enough. The hand count check made it more likely any error would be detected and accurate results would be reported to Concord (as NH Constitution and state law require).

2. knew there had been reported instances of tampering and wanted to discourage any possibility of that happening in his town’s elections.

3. wanted the public to have confidence in his town’s election results.

How:

1. Selective sampling—he chose contests based on a) expected closeness b) vulnerability to tampering c) importance.  (For example, he would hand count just the competitive races in Presidential Primaries.)  UNH statistician confirmed the validity of this kind of sampling.

 2. Double count hand count using  “sort and stack method.” (Election officials sort into piles, first counter cross stacks 25 ballots at a time, second counter verifies count or team determines voter intent, reconciles discrepancy). Public could observe.

3. Verified hand count checked with computer total. Reconcile any differences.

If Wally believed three races might be close, he’d check all three. Recounts cost money, he reasoned and at least candidates would know that one jurisdiction had an accurate count.

For a Presidential Primary, he would oversee hand counts of top races on both Republican and Democratic ballots and reconcile the “other” piles with total ballots cast and number of voters.

Cost: No additional cost for town or state






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