NH Fair Elections Committee Statement on Recount Investigations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Feb. 20, 2008
New Hampshire Fair Elections Committee Statement Regarding Activist Recount Investigations
Immediately following the New Hampshire Primary, citizens around the nation raised questions about discrepancies in votes counted by hand versus those counted by Diebold electronic vote counting machines. As well, citizens identified apparent discrepancies in numbers of votes counted versus numbers of voters in certain polling places in the state.
These concerns were not unexpected, given the broad range of scientific findings about the rates of failure and ease of tampering with the Diebold Accuvote 1.94W machines used to count more than 80% of New Hampshire's votes.
Both Democratic and Republican candidates requested recounts; the Democratic recount only covered one county, the Republican was statewide. Eight independent national voting integrity organizations sent representatives to New Hampshire to conduct citizen oversight and investigations of the recounts, in part due to the importance of the NH Primary. These groups are all based outside of New Hampshire. They came to New Hampshire as free agents, uninvited by the New Hampshire Fair Elections Committee or, to our knowledge, by any NH activist.
The NH Fair Elections Committee (FEC) greatly values and appreciates these efforts, but it must be made clear that the FEC, a nonpartisan citizens action group focused on election integrity in the Granite State, has not been involved in the recount investigation.
Additionally, the FEC currently maintains a neutral position pending results and data analysis from these citizen investigations.
The FEC supports the petition from GOP candidate Albert Howard to the NH Ballot Law Commission, which appeals the recount on the basis of legal and procedural failures, and which requests investigations and suggests beneficial improvements to NH election procedures.
New Hampshire elections are exemplary in many ways, not the least of which being that 45% of our polling places conduct 100% transparent, open, publicly observable, hand count elections. The FEC has been instrumental in sharing NH hand count methodologies with other states in the nation, and the "NH method", as it has come to be known, is widely regarded among national voting integrity groups as the Gold Standard for conducting honest elections. Other factors in New Hampshire elections, such as grassroots local control, and open recount process, are also considered exemplary.
Nonetheless, a preliminary review of the recount investigation results indicates several areas where existing laws and procedures may have not been followed as well as they could have been, and other areas where new laws and procedures would enhance our election integrity.
The NH Fair Elections Committee has always worked collaboratively with the NH Dept of State and the NH legislature. The FEC has consistently informed state officials and representatives of our concerns that more than 80% of New Hampshire vote counting has been outsourced to private interests, resulting in these votes being counted using corporate controlled, proprietary, secret vote counting technology.
The FEC has testified before the Ballot Law Commission and the state legislature, asking for more responsible decision making regarding the use of privatized, proprietary, computerized vote tabulation machines. The FEC has submitted reasonable and effective legislative and procedural recommendations to mitigate the risks of tampering and failure that is posed by these machines, and to address the use of secret vote counting technology, which is in contradiction to New Hampshire Constitutional requirements for open vote counting, and to the New Hampshire Right to Know law. Although these recommendations have not yet been implemented, the FEC looks forward to continuing to work with the State to improve our election systems.
The work done on our collective behalf by dedicated and honest activists from around the nation will help us all to cure problems in procedures which have not been followed, and to identify areas for improvement where needed.