Auditors in New Hampshire believe that folds lines might be one of the reasons behind the discrepancy between the initial election results and a subsequent recount.
How we got here: Republicans in Windham, New Hampshire won all four seats in the legislative election in November. However, a Democratic candidate who lost one of the races, Kristi St. Laurent, requested a recount, which was granted because she was only 24 votes short of victory.
Laurent expected to gain several votes after the hand recount, but the effort revealed that the GOP candidates each received an additional 300 votes, while she lost 99.
This triggered questions about the integrity of the election and what might have caused the initial count to be so far off. Lawmakers in the state from both sides of the aisle authorized an audit of the ballot-counting machines and hand tabulations.
The story: Auditors, who are reviewing the ballots at the Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke, say that they have noticed that the scanners read fold lines as votes. They say that scanners appear to count fold lines as votes when they go through a candidate’s name on the ballot, WMUR reports.
“Something we strongly suspect at this juncture, based on various evidence, is that in some cases, fold lines are being interpreted by the scanners as valid votes,” said independent auditor Mark Lindeman.
Most of the time, they said, it’s Laurent’s name that has fold lines across it on the ballots.
Auditor Philip Stark explains: “Because if someone voted for all four Republican candidates and the ballot happened to have its fold line going through St. Laurent’s target, then that might be interpreted by the machines as an overvote, which would then subtract votes from each of those four Republican candidates. Conversely, if there were not four votes already in that contest by the voter, a fold line through that target could have caused the machine to interpret it as a vote for St. Laurent.”
Auditors also highlight they still have not finished the audit.
Why it matters? As auditors pointed out, the entire state uses the same voting machines.
“It really depends where the folds are in relationship to the vote targets,” Stark noted.
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