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All four polling sites that were randomly selected for a post-election audit of their AccuVote electronic ballot-counting devices earned a passing grade, according to a report released Friday by the NH Secretary of State's Office.
The 76-page report documents precisely how the audit team scrutinized the tallies in Pembroke, Tilton, Durham and Somersworth's Ward 3. The document includes details about minor discrepancies that the audit team deemed "within the expected margins."
In Pembroke, the audit team counted 3,248 ballots, which was seven ballots more than the count recorded on the original AccuVote long-tape. "Part of the difference may be credited to potential jams that the Poll Officials mistakenly believed were counted by the machine," the report states, citing two specific examples of ballots that had additional markings that may have confused the process.
In Tilton, both the audit team's Clear Ballot report and the original AccuVote long-tape counted 1,546 ballots. Their tallies "matched exactly ... with the exception of one race." In the District 1 race for Executive Council, the audit team found one vote fewer for the Democratic candidate (who lost) than AccuVote had counted; the audit team also counted one more undervote.
In Durham, the audit team counted 5,872 ballots, which was one ballot fewer than the count recorded on the original AccuVote long-tape. The moderator told the audit team that one ballot had jammed in the AccuVote machine then "fell into the ballot bin and commingled with other ballots," so it couldn't be rescanned. There was also one ripped ballot. The audit team's Clear Ballot scanner identified two ballots that were unreadable "because there was a fold in the ballot in the bottom corners" that "interfered with the timing marks." Those ballots were "manually adjudicated."
In Somersworth's Ward 3, the audit team counted 854 ballots, which was two ballots fewer than the count recorded on the original AccuVote long-tape. The city held a municipal election Tuesday as well, so the audit team "diligently sorted through the ballots to ensure that only state ballots were included in the audit."
The audit process – which was successfully tested during the primary on high-speed scanners in Laconia's Ward 1 and Hopkinton – was carried out for the general election in accordance with S.B. 366, according to the Secretary of State's Office.
The audit team included NH Sen. Donna Soucy, a Democrat from Manchester, and NH Sen. James Gray, a Republican from Rochester, as well as other officials, attorneys and experts. (The election moderator in Durham, attorney Christopher Regan, recused himself from the Durham audit.)
Republicans appear to have won a very narrow 203-197 majority in the NH House. Recounts set to begin on Monday might affirm or shift that partisan balance.
Candidates have until Monday at 5 p.m. to petition for a recount, but the NH Secretary of State's Office has already scheduled 16 recounts for next week in state rep races. The recounts will take place at the state archives in Concord.
Here's an overview of which recounts are on the calendar and how they could impact the NH House.
Monday, Nov. 14
9 a.m.: Rockingham 5 (Epping) – Republican incumbent NH Rep. Cody Belanger lost this race by 7 votes, finishing third in a four-way race for two seats. The second-place finisher, Mark Vallone, is a Democrat, so if this recount changes the outcome, it could help Republicans.
9:30 a.m.: Merrimack 1 (Boscawen) – Ricky Devoid, a Republican, lost this race by 23 votes, finishing second in a two-way race for one seat. The first-place finisher, Lorrie Carey, is a Democrat, so if this recount changes the outcome, it would help Republicans.
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