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Public access to ballots killed

CONCORD — The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday against opening public access to ballots.

It killed House Bill 1357 on a roll call of 300-37, backing the position of the Secretary of State’s Office.

At a hearing in January, Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan told the House Election Law Committee that passing the bill could open elections to corruption.

Deborah Sumner, a former election clerk in Jaffrey has long argued that the public has a right to view and verify election results upon request and without a court order. She has challenged the existing law in court.

But Scanlan told the committee, “If you make our ballots subject to inspection under the right-to-know law, you open up the possibility of bribery and intimidation to become part of the process.”

Rep. Gary Richardson, D-Hopkinton, said Wednesday that New Hampshire ballots have never been open to public view except during recounts or under certain circumstances with a court order.

Allowing anyone to view the ballots at any time would result in an “administrative nightmare,” said Richardson.

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