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NH stolen election believers blaze a worrisome path
NH Republican activists talk conspiracy promoting audit of 2020 election
The stolen election myth has taken hold with enough Republicans here in New Hampshire to warrant legislative action. Yesterday, there was a public hearing for NH HB1484, a Republican bill that requires a forensic audit of the 2020 general election to take place. The audit would be paid for by donated contributions.
A band of conservative activists that has been regularly deployed at the statehouse was also present at this hearing to register concern about election integrity and have their voices heard.
And what was heard were some off the most bizarre conspiracy theories to be trotted out around here in quite a while. Adam Sexton, reporting from WMUR, summarized the best of them:
"We realize there's something wrong across this country," said James Wood, of Merrimack. "We can't put our finger on it, but we know it's there."
Wood said he attended President Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021, rally on the ellipse and marched to the U.S. Capitol but did not join those storming the building.
"And I watched what happened," Wood said. "I stood with other veterans. There were 3 million of us down there, 500,000 of us were standing around talking about what's going on, and they said exactly what I'm going to tell you: When the political process breaks down, then you're going to have the military option occur."
Some said they believe New Hampshire's vote-counting machines were compromised in a conspiracy dating back to the 1988 Republican presidential primary. There is no evidence of such a conspiracy.
"Governor Sununu's father is the one that got the machines here in New Hampshire, just so you know that," said Kelley Potenza, of Rochester. "If you want to go way back when it was Bush against Dole, let's talk about that. Dole had that election in Manchester. He was leading by nine points, nine or 10 points when our polls were really good at that point, and the machines got slipped in right then."
The major fly in the ointment is that there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud found here in the last election. The proponents of the audit hang their conspiracy hats on irregularities in the 2020 state legislature vote count in small suburban town of Windham, in southern New Hampshire just north of our border with Massachusetts. The short story is that this election was one of seventeen razor close votes in November 2020 that required a recount.
The recount did not change the election results, but brought to light a 400 vote discrepancy between original votes tallied and the recount numbers. The legislature rightly ordered an independent forensic audit of the election for Windham. Much of the public attention focused on the Accuvote ballot counting devices used in Windham and other communities in New Hampshire.
The Accuvote machines have been in use in New Hampshire since the mid-90s and are the only approved ballot counting devices allowed in the state. Almost half the state’s towns still employ old fashioned paper ballots. That said, we have had a good deal of experience using the Accuvote equipment, with few past issues in voting. Interestingly enough, these decades old machines are slated to be replaced due to their end-of-life condition and a shortage of parts to support them going forward.
The election audit report characterized the Windham election results as having “been well run under challenging circumstances, and we confirmed the number of ballots cast to within two ballots”. The integrity of the 2020 Windham vote was upheld by the forensic audit. From the audit report:
This audit found the primary root cause of the discrepancy to be folds through vote targets on some absentee ballots, largely resulting from using a machine to fold absentee ballots. That folding machine, leased by the town for other purposes, did not fold ballots along the score lines between vote targets, where the ballots were designed to be folded. Instead, it often folded ballots through vote targets in the State Representative contest, which the scanners interpreted as vote attempts a substantial fraction of the time: we estimate that about 44 percent of folds through targets were interpreted as marked ovals in November, and experiments conducted during the audit exhibited rates of about 20 percent to more than 72 percent. The problem may have been exacerbated by inadequate maintenance that allowed a build-up of white powder inside the scanners, obstructing the lenses. Folds through vote targets also affected the gubernatorial contest, but less frequently. We also found, as is generally the case in recounts, that the hand count was able to ascertain voter intent in some instances where voters marked ballots incorrectly, leading the scanners to misread valid votes as undervotes or overvotes. No malware was found on any of the tabulators. Forensic examination of a random sample of paper ballots revealed nothing anomalous about the paper, printing, or marking.
I have not encountered any evidence that suggests New Hampshire requires a statewide audit of the 2020 election. The new Secretary of State agreed following at the legislative hearing yesterday,
New Hampshire's voting systems are decentralized and administered locally. He said that if the dedicated volunteers who run elections thought something was amiss, they would have spoken up.
"Frankly, I haven't heard anything here today, in the form of evidence, that shows there was something wrong on a larger scale that we really need to look into," .
I do not believe that additional audits or any facts at hand will change the mind these Republican activists and their far out libertarian agenda. They don’t trust their elected government. They don’t trust either the Republican or Democrat parties. They don’t trust experts or anyone who disagrees with them about masks or vaccines.
The WMUR article ended with the right summary conclusion.
But those who went to Concord to testify aren't buying it, and they specifically warned Republican representatives that defying them would be a mistake.
"You continue to go down the wrong path, and you'll have to face your maker, along with a lot of righteous constituents in this state who will live free or we will die," said Terese Grinnell, of Loudon.
The stolen election narrative has led us down a polarizing path and I am sure that it is not just in New Hampshire. This next election cycle will be turbulent.
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