Proposal to Allow Post-Election Audits In N.H. Comes Up For Debate

Jan 28, 2020

While many New Hampshire towns still count votes by hand, most of the state’s ballots are tallied by machines. A plan to check that those machines are counting votes correctly was the subject of debate before the House Election Law Committee Tuesday.

Post-election audits are used in more than three dozen other states. Election policy experts recommend them as a way to instill more trust in the voting process. Derry Moderator Mary Till was one of several people who told lawmakers Tuesday it's time for New Hampshire to adopt its own audit procedures for ballot-counting devices.

“The way that we count votes today and verify that the vote count is accurate is primarily to determine that nobody has stuffed the ballot box or thrown ballots under the table,” Till said. “But that’s not what’s happening today in the electronic universe.”

(Related story: Protector of N.H. Primary Claims "You Can't Hack This Pencil," But Worries Persist)

Till testified in support of a bill that would allow voters in towns that use ballot-counting machines to request post-election audits of their results. The same bill would repeal a law that shields cast ballots from public inspection.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State's office opposes the measure. Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan says his office is not opposed to post-election audits in all cases, but this bill isn't the right approach.