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AG's office: Incorrect absentee ballots sent to 126 voters

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 11. 2018 8:41PM

CONCORD — The Attorney General’s office has identified 126 voters who received an incorrect absentee ballot for the November election and is working with local election officials to ensure that all of them receive a corrected ballot, according to Assistant Attorney General Matthew Broadhead.

The state Democratic Party has asked for an AG investigation into the errors.

“We are in the process of collecting information and reviewing the processes that the state and town officials use before sending out the ballots and we expect to issue something in writing sometime next week,” Broadhead said.

“Town clerks are required under state law to review and inspect those ballots before they send them out to voters. They receive sample ballots and are required to inspect them prior to Election Day, and that includes all ballots, absentee or otherwise.”

Sandown, Bedford and Londonderry sent out 71 incorrect ballots, while Auburn and Chester sent 55. “To our knowledge so far, these five jurisdictions were the only towns that had errors on the ballots,” according to a DOJ statement.

The ballot errors were first brought to light earlier this week by the New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights, a progressive group that is also calling on the Secretary of State to do a full review of ballots for the November election.

Secretary of State William Gardner says his office is aware of the errors and they are being corrected as part of the routine process by which local officials get advance copies of ballots to proofread and check for errors before Election Day.

NHDP Chairman Ray Buckley took issue with that assessment. “The secretary of state is now claiming this is the regular process by which errors are caught, but there is no process,” he said.

In Londonderry, Tammy M. Siekmann, a Democrat, was listed under the Libertarian column.

In Auburn, Chester and Sandown, Russell R. Norman, a Democrat, was listed as a candidate for state representative, when Stephen D’Angelo was the final finisher in the primary and should be listed instead.

In Bedford, Democratic candidate for Executive Council Gray Chynoweth was listed as the Libertarian candidate, instead of Rich Tomasso.

All of the errors involve absentee ballots, according to Broadhead, most of them sent to military members or U.S. citizens living overseas.

The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA) requires that overseas citizens receive their absentee ballots for the general election by Sept. 21, which puts a squeeze on New Hampshire with a Sept. 11 primary.

He said the ballots are reviewed at the Secretary of State’s office and at the local level before any are sent out, but quality control rests primarily with the local election clerks.

“The Secretary of State’s office does not mail these ballots out directly,” said Broadhead. “They provide the ballots to the town clerks and the town clerks are required to mail them out to particular voters. The town clerks are the last people to see the ballots before they are mailed.”

The mistakes appear to be a matter of human error.

“There is a process in place and there is no evidence that any of this was intentional in any way,” said Broadhead. “The clerks are all following the proper process to ensure that every voter receives a correct ballot.”

Elections General News Auburn Bedford Chester Londonderry Sandown State Government

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