Why HB 1390 Is Needed: NH Voters Deserve Elections We Have Reason to Trust

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Deborah Sumner

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Jan 27, 2020, 9:22:33 AM1/27/20
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Public Hearing on HB 1390 Jan. 28. See link here. Will allow randomly selected election night hand count verification of contests most vulnerable to tampering (as was allowed prior to Nov. 2016) AND repeal the ballot exemption from RSA 91-A.


http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/Results.aspx?q=1&txtbillnumber=hb1390&txtsessionyear=2020

 

Testimony in support of the bill will be added here after it has been sent to House Election Law Committee members. Email committee @HouseElectionLawCommittee@leg.state.nh.us

 From Town Moderator Mary Till of Derry (see attached)


Excerpt:


"I have been working for over five years now to get the attention of this body to take seriously the vulnerability of our Accu-vote vote counting system to deliberate vote manipulation. The fact that I am here again today is evidence of my complete failure in this regard. But I cannot give up because democracy is a sham if the votes of the people are not protected."


From David Saad of Rumney

 

As a computer consultant for over 30 years, I have spent much of my professional life identifying and correcting computer system errors.  Many times, these errors are attributable to the computer system itself even though it had been previously put through various tests to insure its accuracy.  The reality is that no electronic device is 100% accurate all the time.  The accuracy of ballot counting devices depends on a number of factors and each of those factors are susceptible to inherent flaws which may not be fully uncovered before the devices are used to count votes.  Ballot counting devices are subject to unintentional and intentional error.  One of the easiest ways to insure the ballot counting device is working accurately is to conduct an independent verification count of all machine-counted ballots.

 

Please support HB 1390 which will make ballots accessible to citizens to allow an independent verification of all votes tallied.


David Saad

President

Right To Know New Hampshire (RTKNH)       Promoting Open Government

Email: RightT...@gmail.com

Blog: www.RightToKnowNH.org



From Barbara Glassman of Nashua:


To the Honorable Members of the House Election Law Committee:

I'm writing in support of HB 1390, Relative to access to ballots and verification counts of machine-counted ballots. By confirming a moderator's authority to conduct a verification count and repealing the ballot exemption from the public's Right to Know, it rights two wrongs.

The following was written by Gerhard Bedding as a letter to the editor of the Keene Sentinel, recently submitted. Protect the Count NH added "In NH: Investigation requested" when it was posted on Facebook on January 15. It is particularly relevant to HB 1390.

If you look at the paper Mr. Bedding cites as evidence of reason for concern, you'll see that, in contrast to all the other candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, Romney's vote share always rose as the size of the voting jurisdiction increased, not only in New Hampshire (p. 11) but in multiple states. This is highly unlikely to have happened by chance. A rigged vote is easier to conceal in a larger jurisdiction.

In NH: Investigation requested

Magical Disappearance: Are We All Sleeping?

When something of great value to NH’s election integrity suddenly vanishes, you would think we would pay attention, especially with our Presidential Primary just around the corner. NH moderators had the discretionary authority to do a hand-count verification of their computer counts on election night, as clearly confirmed by New Hampshire’s Election Procedure Manual through Sept. 2016. This practice was strongly recommended by the NH Electronic Ballot Counting Device Advisory Committee, November 30, 2009, A number of towns did such checks regularly, enhancing the trust in their computer data. This moderator’s authority to verify the count has now been completely eliminated. The Secretary of State’s office asks us to just trust the computer count, pointing at the availability of an official recount that can be requested by a candidate.

Is there a reason to be wary of computer counts? Well, we all know how Volkswagen got away for years with manipulating their computers to cover up the emission data of their diesel engines. Did you know that the official results of the 2012 Republican primaries in NH’s large cities were signaled by reputable statisticians as doubtful, for good solid reasons.

There was no recount in that primary, and no moderators in the big cities verified the count so we lack ultimate hard proof of NH big city computers having been tweaked in 2012. Yet, similar tweaking may happen in the February 2020 New Hampshire Presidential Primary.

Here’s the full account of how the NH SoS, with cooperation of the NH AG, recently removed the moderator’s option to verify the computer count. The Keene City Council, the Keene Sentinel, and a letter of the NH Attorney General addressed to me, all played a role.

In Sept. 2015, I presented the case for election night hand-count verification checks to Keene’s City Council. The councilors were unanimously in favor. But the City Attorney advised against it, At that time I was not aware that the elected moderator was the key. I thought that the City of Keene could simply decide to do it. So I wrote the NH AG in October 2015, asking for clarification. The NH Attorney General took until March 8th, 2016, to reply to my letter, stating that the City of Keene as a municipality did not have the statutory authority to do an election night hand-count audit.

The Keene Sentinel (9/30/16) published an editorial, fully supporting hand-count verifications on election night: ”We can see no upside in continuing to have blind faith in machine counts when we know there’s a possibility of malfunction or worse, deliberate tampering.”

In September 2016 a newly elected moderator for Derry, Mary Till, announced that she was going to do a randomly selected hand-count verification at the primary election. David Scanlan, Deputy Secretary of State, sent a letter to Mary Till on September 12th, with a copy of AG Stephen LaBonte’s letter to me, implying that this letter should stop her plan. Yet, Mr. Scanlan knew full well that the Election Manual supported Mary Till’s authority to do this check. Mary Till was also fully aware that the City of Keene’s authority as a City had no bearing on her authority as an elected moderator of Derry. So she proceeded with a hand-count check of two randomly chosen contests (one R and one D) in full view of the public.

What followed was a shameful display of power used to discredit a public servant who was doing her job by the book. Her hand-count verification was labeled as an unauthorized recount, though it was done exactly in the same way towns such as Danville and Brookline had been doing for years. Other charges were made, such as Ms. Till touching the ballots, which she was careful to avoid. A number of people, members of the Monadnock Election Integrity group, have looked into the charges against Mary Till and found them unsubstantiated by evidence. An independent investigation of these charges is sorely needed to achieve justice.

Having created a dust storm around Mary Till’s verification count now gave the Secretary of State the excuse it had been looking for to eliminate these election night hand-count checks completely. For years David Scanlan had been advising against them, when consulted by moderators who were considering such a practice. It’s sad to see how the NH Attorney General who is supposed to be independent, just accepted the Secretary of State’s story about Derry without looking into it carefully.

It’s high time for an independent investigation of the charges against Mary Till’s September 2016 verification count and the magical disappearance of a valuable tool to secure computer vote counts.

Gerhard Bedding is a retired teacher and science writer from Keene, NH, who has just celebrated his 91st birthday.

[Choquette and Johnson paper referenced above: https://electiondefensealliance.org/files/PrimaryElectionResultsAmazingStatisticalAnomalies_V2.1.pdf?fbclid=IwAR166AUHtvrfivnqVHC0vFNDiE9Bh6Yf5IR9JqDjnXuPdkCzv0V793iH7N0]


I've been incensed ever since I read about the underhanded way in which the ballot exemption from public records was enacted, without a hearing:  
"Passed in 2003, HB 627 created this exemption through an amendment to the main bill, which dealt with voter registration procedures – not public records. The amendment was added after a public hearing on the bill that occurred on March 3 [actually, April 30], 2003. (See HB 627-FN Bill History, page 55, 89, and Docket of HB 627.)"

There is no good reason for its perpetuation, which is now being extended to apply to digital ballot images. Democracy dies in darkness.

Thanks very much for your attention.

Deborah Sumner of Jaffrey has submitted this Supplement to Committee members: "Chronology of Erosion in Protecting NH Voting Rights/Election Integrity and Public Trust" as background to testimony she gave Jan. 28. See her testimony in attached.


Excerpt:


"The NH Supreme court said in its March 2016 opinion, current law “enables public oversight of the vote counting process...RSA 659:63 requires that vote counting be conducted in public, so that the public may observe the counting process as it occurs.”

 

"It ignored the fact that concealed vote counts violate that law in AccuVote towns.  It said, in effect, that hiding evidence of possible fraud/error in our elections is a “political decision” of the Legislature. As someone with at least 13 NH ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War, I strongly disagree with the court’s interpretation of our state constitution."



EIErosion2:20-R.pdf
Till Testimony on HB 1390.pdf
20-HB1390.pdf
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