Volunteers join Windham audit effort

·2 min read

May 13—PEMBROKE — The first team of volunteers joined the state's effort to reexamine 2020 voter returns from Windham on the second day of a forensic audit Wednesday.

Milford Town Clerk Joan Dargie, Derry Town Clerk Dan Healy, Hooksett Town Clerk Todd Rainer and Concord Ward Moderator Jean Barnes showed up with colleagues from several New Hampshire towns after Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards sent out a blast email seeking volunteers.

Broken up into small teams, the volunteers started Wednesday making document-specific marks on each of the more than 10,000 ballots cast in town last Nov. 3.

Harri Hursti, the state's designee on the three-person audit team, said the project got ahead of schedule.

This was why late Wednesday they were able to start running ballots through AccuVote machines that automatically tabulated these votes in Windham.

After all the ballots are scanned through the machines, the audit will turn to a hand tally of the votes cast in Windham for state representative, governor and U.S. Senate.

The hand tally could take up to eight days to complete, Hursti said.

On Wednesday, the third member of the team, University of California-Berkeley professor Philip Stark, arrived to join Hursti and Mark Lindeman, the town of Windham's appointee.

State law ordered first-ever forensic audit

New Hampshire lawmakers passed a state law (SB 43) creating this unprecedented forensic audit after a hand recount last Nov. 12 ended with all four Republican candidates for State House seats each getting roughly 300 votes more than they did on Election Night.

The top-finishing Democrat, Kristi St. Laurent, lost 100 votes in the recount, turning a 24-vote loss on Election Day to finishing 424 votes out of the money after ballots were counted by hand.

A few glitches emerged Wednesday, though Hursti said all were not cause for any concern.

For example, the modem connection to one of these four AccuVote machines was found to have been "severed" when it was opened up Wednesday, Hursti said.

An audit of all the vote-counting machine equipment is done after the hand tally, he added.

Also, volunteers found two ballots in an envelope that were separate from the more than 20 boxes of cast ballots, Hursti said.

Auditors had planned to use date stamps to mark all the cast ballots, but the stamps proved to be unreliable.

The team decided to abandon them in favor of having volunteers mark ballots with colored pens.

The state law requires the audit be done by May 27.

klandrigan@unionleader.com