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Voting rights group calls for review of NH ballots after errors found

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 09. 2018 9:04AM
Voters cast ballots at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School in Derry. (nion Leader file photo)

CONCORD — The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights is calling on the Secretary of State to do a full review of ballots for the November 2018 election after the discovery of incorrect ballots or sample ballots.

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.

In Londonderry, Tammy M. Siekmann, a Democrat, was listed under the Libertarian column in absentee ballots for overseas voters.

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.

The Bedford mistake was already caught and corrected, and other fixes are coming, according to Gardner.

“We produce more than 9,000 unique ballots. That means there’s something unique to that specific ballot that is not on any other ballot in the state,” he said. “There’s a process by which these get checked, so we catch errors when they happen.”

Town clerks get copies of the absentee ballots well ahead of Election Day, which is when most errors get spotted.

“By statute, the clerk gets those ballots, looks at them and confirms they are OK,” said Gardner. “The Auburn clerk notified us that a person who had lost the primary was on the ballot, and we’ve taken care of that.”

Liz Wester, state director for America Votes, New Hampshire, is pressing for a comprehensive review at the Secretary of State office.

“We call upon the secretary of state’s office to do a full review of the state’s ballots in every town to ensure that these errors are not widespread across the state, issue written guidance to address this issue as soon as possible and provide a course of action for our local election officials to ensure every ballot is counted correctly,” she said.

“With the high number of offices and candidates on each ballot in New Hampshire, mistakes are possible, but the errors and inconsistencies such as those in Londonderry, Bedford, Chester, Sandown and Auburn are unacceptable.”

Gardner predicted that the feedback from local election officials based on their review of the absentee ballots should be completed by the end of this week.

“The ballots are out there now,” he said. “All the clerks get these and they do the review and let us know if they have any question. This is not unusual.”

America Votes describes itself as the “coordination hub of the progressive community.”


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