After the Windham Board of Selectmen’s meeting hit online participant capacity Monday night, the board decided to reschedule its discussion on voting irregularities in the November election.
The topic will be taken up Monday, March 1, at a meeting at the Windham High School auditorium. Online access will also be available.
Board members noted Monday that the Zoom account had reached its limit of 100 members, keeping some members of the public from being able to speak, and even the town’s lawyer had trouble getting in.
Town Administrator David Sullivan said the town is increasing its Zoom limits to ensure it can better handle the anticipated interest in the topic. Monday’s agenda stated the board was going to meet with town counsel and state election officials to discuss the town’s request to the Attorney General’s Office “for an investigation into the November recount issues,” and review other options available.
“Based on the posted agenda topic I think the level of participation certainly shows that people are interested in the Town’s request that the AG’s office investigate the discrepancy between the town’s local election results and the results shown in the recount by the State as that is what our agenda topic was,” Sullivan said in an email.
After a recount from the Nov. 3 election uncovered about 300 more votes for Republican House candidates and that Republican Julius Soti won his state rep seat by 424 votes, rather than just 24 votes as the original tally showed, the town requested the Attorney General’s Office audit the town’s election and investigate the role of voting machines in the discrepancy.
The same winners were declared after the recount, but the size of the discrepancy was deemed unusual by Secretary of State Bill Gardner.
However, the Attorney General’s Office said it has no statutory authority to conduct such an audit.
The start of Monday’s meeting was marked by chaos as Chairman Ross McLeod tried to talk over a cacophony of unmuted voices for about 15 minutes. Several members of the public gathered in the town hall meeting room.
McLeod made the decision to reschedule the meeting early on because the Zoom account hit its participant limit.
“That’s really the key thing here, because people who wish to participate are not able to, and we need to make sure that they can,” McLeod said.
He apologized to those in attendance who had been waiting for about 40 minutes for the meeting to begin, only to have the agenda item rescheduled.
“We were expecting a large attendance, that is for sure. I just apologize that you had to waste your time like this. It is an embarrassment, and I’m really sorry for that,” McLeod said.
The meeting went into a five-minute recess to give time for people present only for the voting machine discussion to leave town hall, after which the board reconvened to address other agenda items such as approving a First Responders Reimbursement Grant, consideration of a proposed water rights purchase amendment and administrative abatements.
Last Thursday, the state Senate unanimously passed SB 43, which would authorize an audit of the Rockingham County District 7 state representative race. It is now in the House Election Law Committee.