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New Hampshire panel studying voter confidence issues report

NHPR Staff

In its final report, the committee concluded that New Hampshire elections are well-run, the results are accurate and there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

A bipartisan committee assessing voter confidence in New Hampshire made more than a dozen recommendations Thursday to improve what it deemed a strong election system worthy of public support.

In its final report, the committee concluded that New Hampshire elections are well-run, the results are accurate and there is no evidence of widespread fraud.

Its 14 recommendations include several aimed at local election officials, including increased training, more robust recruitment and legislation to protect them against harassment.

Other suggestions addressed election procedures, such as purchasing new ballot counting devices, expanding post-election audits and improving the absentee ballot process. And recommendations focused on voters themselves include an educational marketing campaign about voting, expanding the public's ability to observe the election process and publicizing the process for citizen complaints.

"To maintain voter confidence, our election process has to be as transparent as it can possibly be," said Secretary of State David Scanlan. "We have to do a good job, a better job, at educating our voter population about how our election system works."

Scanlan created the committee in May, asking for recommendations for reversing a decline in voter confidence seen in recent years. But a poll released this month by the UNH Survey Center showed the trend might already be changing: Three-quarters of those who voted in the November elections said they were confident their vote was accurately counted, an increase compared to 2020 and 2016.

The committee received testimony from nearly 500 people by email, letter or comments at public sessions held around the state. Based on that testimony, the committee concluded that voting is accessible, and most voters have confidence in elections.

"It was fascinating to hear all sides, and we have recorded all sides, and the report contains all sides," said the committee's co-chair, Dick Swett, a Democrat and former congressman.

"At the end of the day, in New Hampshire I feel confident that we have identified where errors occur and how elections can be improved, but for the most part, I wish the rest of the country would follow the example New Hampshire has set forth."

The eight-member committee was nearly unanimous in approving the report. The lone no vote came from Ken Eyring, a conservative activist and founder of the Government Integrity Project. He praised his fellow committee members and the report, but said he would be submitting his own next week.

"I agree with many aspects of the report, but respectfully, I do not believe than any of the public input should be filtered out of the final report."

Members of a voter rights advocacy coalition said they hope Scanlan and the Legislature will take seriously the recommendations on improving voter access and election modernization. Some criticized parts of the report that summarized testimony that included unfounded conspiracy theories about election fraud.

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