Reported by Jack Davis | May 23, 2021
An election audit in a New Hampshire town may have discovered why initial results were so far at variance from those revealed in a follow-up hand count. The audit was triggered because of what happened to Democratic state House candidate Kristi St. Laurent. As of election night, she was short by 24 votes of winning one of the four seats of for grabs in Windham, a town of 10,000. But when the recount was held, she was 420 votes short.
St. Laurent’s initial total had been overcounted by about 99 votes according to the recount, while the Republicans who finished ahead of her were undercounted in the initial tally. The audit was held to determine why the initial results were so far off.
The auditors currently suspect that fold lines in the ballots being scanned fooled the machine into thinking that a candidate whose name appeared on a fold line received a vote.
“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, according to WMUR-TV.
The auditors tried to explain what happened in a series of tweets, noting one instance that showed a discrepancy between what was cast and what was counted, in which only 28 percent of the Republican votes cast were recorded accurately.
And the most frequent name to appear on a fold was that of St. Laurent.
“Wherever the fold happened to be was, I guess, most commonly through my name,” she told WMUR.
Auditors said their explanation fits the outcome.
“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,” said auditor Philip Stark, according to WMUR.
“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,” he said.
The audit is not complete, but if the initial conclusion is correct, it could have a ripple effect across the state.
“Throughout New Hampshire, you’re using the same voting machines, the AccuVote, and in principle, it could be an issue,” Stark told WMUR, which is based in Manchester, the state’s largest city.
“It really depends where the folds are in relationship to the vote targets,” he said.
In election jargon, a “vote target” is the equivalent of a candidate.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jack Davis, Contributor,
Jack Davis is a freelance writer who joined The Western Journal in July 2015 and chronicled the campaign that saw President Donald Trump elected. Since then, he has written extensively for The Western Journal on the Trump administration as well as foreign policy and military issues.