After Iowa Stumbles, New Hampshire Touts Smooth Voting Process

Feb 12, 2020

It wasn’t just the election results in New Hampshire that were under the spotlight on Tuesday - it was also the process itself. That’s in large part because of what happened a little more than a week ago in Iowa, where that state’s Democratic caucus collapsed in spectacular fashion.

By all accounts, New Hampshire’s 6,000 local and state election officials - many of them elected by their own communities - helped pull off a relatively smooth Primary Day.

“The election officials that we have in our state are wonderful, and they are on the front lines continuing to ensure that our elections are carried out with integrity,” said Nicholas Chong Yen, head of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Election Law Unit.

The attorney general’s election day hotline received approximately 160 calls, according to Chong Yen, a number in line with previous elections. He described the calls as routine, with no reports of widespread voting abnormalities.

A sign directs same-day registrants at Oyster River High School in Durham
Credit Annie Ropeik | NHPR

“We continue to do our due diligence, follow up on our calls, treat all of them seriously, and make sure we were able to resolve those calls quickly,” he said.

The U.S. District Attorney for New Hampshire also operated a hotline for voting related concerns. Attorney Seth Aframe, the designated election officer, said he received ten calls throughout the day, with no major concerns.

“One person said that the town official said that they had to put the ballot in the box, and he wanted to put the ballot in the box himself. Those are the kinds of questions I received today,” said Aframe.

At the polls, election observers also reported minimal hiccups.

“Just sort of watching the Democratic process, and making sure that all the voters have the right to access to vote, and everything seems pretty streamlined, so far here today,” said David Chorney, who served as a poll watcher inside Manchester’s Ward 6 polling location inside Mclaughlin Middle School.

While a reporter for NHPR was at Ward 6, the ballot box jammed. It was quickly unlocked and unjammed by a capable moderator.

In Durham, the state’s largest college town, there were no major issues reported as students registered at the polls.

“I brought my student ID. I brought a Massachusetts ID but they didn’t accept that,” said Annabel Dryden, who lives on campus. “So, I needed to use my school’s website to show them that I actually lived in the dorms.”

In Durham, UNH students line up to vote at Oyster River High School
Credit Jordyn Haime | NHPR

In Exeter, Ronald Goodspeed also described a smooth process. “I just walk in, show my ID, get my ballot and away we go. It’s always that way. So it’s very efficient,” he said.

Asked if will have faith in the accuracy of the results, Goodspeed was direct: “Oh absolutely, the machines don’t lie.”

The straightforward process and reporting of results was welcome news to, perhaps more than anyone else, the actual candidates.

The Associated Press called the race for Sen. Bernie Sanders around 11:45 pm. While that was later than the 9:30pm that N.H. Secretary of State Bill Gardner predicted, it was still more timely than in Iowa, where the AP, more than 8 days later, still hasn’t declared a winner.