Response to David Brooks (Concord Monitor) Dec. 6 2016

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Deborah Sumner

Dec 11, 2016, 5:30:37 AM12/11/16
to Jaffrey Voices
Note: This was also sent to other members of the media, including the Ledger-Transcript

Since I am continuing to add people to this “Media FYI” please request to see the earlier parts if you want to see them.

David Brooks’ recent article (reprinted in the Peterborough Ledger Transcript) gives me the chance to try and correct three wide-spread myths that are continued in this article and a fourth, which isn’t covered. Mr. Brooks would you be willing to do these three corrections/clarifications in a follow up article? 

We certainly don’t want our NH media spreading “fake news” that the public will PROBABLY believe as if it were true, especially when they keep hearing the same “myths” taken as real over and over. (And I don’t believe you want that either)_

1) Myth 1: 2008 Presidential Primary recount showed all was fine.

See: “Kucinch letter cites miscounts in NH, requests state carry out `complete and accurate recount of all ballots” His letter is available through this link. I can give you information about concerns about the Republican candidate requesting a recount as well.

Also, I gave you evidence of problems with citizen-observed documentation of ballot chain of custody problems and possibility of ballot tampering in the Nov. 29 email. Please let me know if I should send or resend that to anyone.

2) Myth 2: NH does so many recounts we don’t need to do other checks on computer accuracy (now “counting” 87.5% of all votes in violation of our election laws and NH Constitution. ALL computer experts and the recommendations from 2009 state advisory report disagree.

Andrew Appel (from Princeton) told the state advisory committee in 2009 that recounts are NOT enough. 

"He explained if you consistently have recounts for the same offices, e.g. senate, representative, sheriff, city council, etc., the cheaters would know which races to stay away from, or they already know the percentage margin to exceed in order to avoid a recount. The cheaters could then ensure their candidate wins by a respectable margin, enough to avoid a recount. "(minutes of Oct. 30, 2009, p. )

3) Myth 3: NH moderators don’t have legal authority to make sure the computer count is accurate on election night.

I picked up copies of Jaffrey election records yesterday. At the top of the Moderator’s Worksheet, it says, “It is the moderator’s job to ensure that votes are accurately counted. (RSA 659:60)”

Mr. Scanlan tried to tell Jaffrey officials in 2010 that election night hand counts of the computer were “recounts” and “illegal.” But the Jaffrey moderator checked with the Attorney General’s office (BELIEVE that was Bud Fitch), found they were legal and planned to proceed—until a written communication from Scanlan persuaded him to change his mind.

Here’s the written confirmation I received Nov. 1 from then Assistant AG Matthew Mavrogeorge, copied to Scanlan and Deputy AG Fitch.

I wrote, “I would like written confirmation from your office that election night hand counts are legal for any polling place, including those that have vote counting machines.”

Mavrogeorge’s email response of Nov. 1. “Moderators are given significant authority to determine what procedures at their polling place are necessary to ensure an accurate count.

Other moderators were doing them BEFORE 2010, with full knowledge of the Secretary of State and NO INTERFERENCE. If you want,  can link you to an article that quotes two of them.

Example from Adisory Committee minutes:

• Auditing/Parallel Counts
Mr. Fries observed that, in order to check the machine count, he, in his role of moderator [in Danville], has been doing a hand count of one or two selected races on each election night, with races based on what his election officials agree upon. EBCDAC minutes, Jan. 26, 2009

4) Myth 4 Pre-election ballot testing (logic and accuracy) ensure accurate computer counts on election night. (Most legislators still seem to believe this.)

This is my favorite source to debunk that myth. (Scroll down a bit to see it.) This page also shows you how ONE Wisconsin county is using the technology and have a 100% publicly observable vote count. Ballots in Wisconsin, btw, are public records, which they should also be in NH since the state has not given any legitimate or compelling reason for exempting them from NH public records law. More on this later.

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