To the Honorable Steve Shurtleff, speaker of the House; Dick Hinch, House minority leader; Donna Soucy, Senate president; and Chuck Morse, Senate minority leader:
Our sacred right to vote and have it counted as we intend deserves the highest level of government protection.
We, the undersigned New Hampshire citizens, are deeply concerned about a joint action of the Secretary of State’s and Attorney General’s offices in 2016 involving the Derry moderator. She used her discretion (as described in the Election Procedure Manual) to do a hand-count verification of two randomly determined computer vote totals. She did so believing it was her constitutional duty as town moderator to conduct such a public check of the computer count. Other moderators had done so previously with full knowledge of the secretary of state and attorney general.
Along with a study committee’s strong recommendation in 2009 for statewide, post-election, hand-counted audits, this election night verification of “closely contested high-profile races … should remain an option for local officials,” the report said.
The following guidance was included in the Election Procedure Manuals from 2012 to September 2016: “Moderators may use their discretion as to whether or not they will conduct such a [hand count check] on election night. If they decide to conduct a second count … they should have a good reason for doing so.”
After the Derry town moderator conducted such a verification following the September 2016 primary elections, the secretary of state removed the above wording from the manual and severely reprimanded her for conducting the hand count.
Computer-counted votes are not currently protected, as New Hampshire law requires. We respectfully request:
1. Guidance re: moderator’s authority to perform a constitutional duty (2012-Sept. 2016 EPM language is satisfactory) should be immediately restored to the Election Procedure Manual.
2. Your support for legislation codifying not only the right to, but the necessity of, conducting a verification of the computer count after every election. We urge you to support the expedient processing of House Bill 554.
3. The Derry moderator deserves an apology for the damage done to her reputation when, in reality, she believed she was fulfilling her constitutional duty to ensure an accurate count.
4. It is time for New Hampshire to show it cares about protecting voting rights; time to stop trusting and start verifying our computer vote counts.
I am one of 50 co-signers to this letter so far. To add your name or receive footnotes, contact me.
25 Ivy Drive, No. 43