Message to NH Union Leader: You Missed a Few Things in Voting Story

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  • 03/02/2023

The following letter to the editor was sent to the New Hampshire Union Leader, that state’s flagship newspaper of record for decades, on Monday in response to a story they ran over the weekend.  At Human Events we have covered extensively the efforts in the Granite State to promote election integrity.  That effort has been led by a grassroots group of passionate, dissident citizens fighting for their rights in communities all across the state.

It was my feeling that the Union Leader failed miserably in its portrayal of those citizens, their motivations, and the case they are making.  Further, they were also almost journalistically negligent in their failure to challenge both state and local contentions as to what New Hampshire law requires them to do.

Since the Union Leader has declined to print the letter, it is posted here in support of the citizen effort in New Hampshire and to let other Americans understand just what, exactly, they are up against when they attempt to challenge the government ruling class and its supportive media partners.  

February 21, 2022

Dear Editor,

It was with both personal and professional interest that I read your article dated February 19 (updated February 21) titled “Towns consider getting rid of vote-counting machines.” As a former resident of the Granite State (a different Sununu was then Governor), I’ve kept your goings-on in my peripheral view over the course of five decades.  As a journalist, our platform has taken particular interest over the past year in New Hampshire’s citizen-led activities concerning election integrity.

Our reporting started with the obviously flawed Windham vote counts that led for the demands of an audit.  We reported on how those citizen-driven demands came from both political parties and how the audit requests were resisted both locally and at the state level.  This led to special legislation needing to be passed, spearheaded by State Senator Bob Guida.

Our reporting continued through the selection of the auditors (of questionable background and to the best of my knowledge, not covered by your publication) right through the results of the audit which, as you reported in your story, said that the vote miscounts were due to machine reading errors with “folded” ballots.  It was also the case that some ballots were not read due to debris on the machine.  

These machine errors led to a not insignificant number of votes being disregarded.  I believe that in Windham 22%  of the votes were unreported.  In Hampton that number was 17%, and in Salem a staggering 33% were not reported.  This is not a level of machine error that we would tolerate in making an ATM deposit (unless perhaps the error was in your favor?).

That audit process led to the Marigold Coffee Club undertaking the effort which was the subject of your above referenced story.  The members response to the audit was simple.  They reasoned that if the problem with counting votes was the machines, then let’s give the people the chance to remove the machines.   

There is nothing terribly troubling about the logic of the preceding sentence.  It is at once rational and embraces the ideas of good old-fashioned New England grassroots activism.  Hear the people.  Give them their day and their say at the ballot box.  What could possibly be more 1776?

Instead of a warm embrace, however, the Marigold Coffee Club and its members have faced resistance, ridicule, and outright defiance from elected officials and state law enforcement authorities in their presentation of electronically signed warrant articles.  They have also faced hostility and/or misrepresentation from the New Hampshire press when reporting on their efforts.  I believe your story was an example of such misrepresentation and that has caused me to write to you today.

Your publication correctly reported on the content of the communication (we have a copy) that Secretary of State Scanlon sent out on January 12 citing state law and advising municipalities that there was no requirement for them to accept electronically signed warrant articles.  What your article did not address, just like the SOS’s email did not address, was the following direct lift from New Hampshire’s law: 

294-E:7 Legal Recognition of Electronic Records, Electronic Signatures, and Electronic Contracts. –
I. A record or signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because it is in electronic form.
II. A contract may not be denied legal effect or enforceability solely because an electronic record was used in its formation.
III. If a law requires a record to be in writing, an electronic record satisfies the law.
IV. If a law requires a signature, an electronic signature satisfies the law.

At a minimum the above cite of what is commonly referred to as “black letter law” would seem to be worthy of a mention.  In providing electronically signed warrant articles, it seems as though, at least to the literate, that Marigold satisfied the requirements under state law.  If they did not, they are certainly owed an explanation of the above incongruity.  In ignoring the law in their response and simply decreeing that the warrant articles don’t need to be accepted, the SOS’s office creates a sort of “Soviet feel” regarding selective enforcement.

It was suggested in the piece that digital signatures cannot be verified.  Again, this is misleading.  Given that there are supposed to be voter roles that contain signatures, it is easy enough to look at the digitally signed petitions and either universally or through a sample verify with those folks that they signed the petition.  As a former auditor myself, we used to call this quite mundane process a “confirmation.”  

It is important to remember that the warrant articles originated because the adoption of machine vote counting was undertaken on a trial basis.  TITLE LXIII
Elections Chapter 656:40 on ballot counting devices makes that clear.  To date, it is our understanding Marigold has not been able to have a single municipality provide evidence that the trial period has been ended by vote and made into a permanent solution.  Trials typically do not last ad infinitum.  This seems another topic worthy of coverage by your paper.   

Your article quoted Windham Select Chairman Ross McLeod at length, but it did not mention that at its February 12 meeting Windham altered the warrant articles in a manner that makes the result of the vote irrelevant.  No matter how the vote comes in, the selectmen will not be required to remove the machines.  You further reported that at the meeting “no petitioners spoke.”  What you did not report is that the agenda placement of the issue was moved from the end of the meeting to the beginning without public notice, violating the town’s own notice of meeting requirements.  The petitioners never had a chance.

You also quoted McLeod as saying, “We all know what this particular warrant article is about: It’s about a bunch of people from out-of-town pushing an agenda on us, the voters of Windham, and how we’re going to conduct our elections.”  This is pure hyperbole and goes unchallenged, as do McLeod’s assertions of “irony” for people using digital submissions to challenge machine vote counting.  This is pure broken logic left alone in the reporting.

As to McLeod’s claim that drawing out the process by hand counting can raise questions as to legitimacy, the contention is illogical in the sense that when vote recounts are required, they typically are recounted by hand, that being the most reliable form of ensuring accuracy.

Separately, you mention the vote that was held in Greenland, but that vote was a special election and was not part of the Marigold initiative utilizing warrant articles. To include it was relevant to the specific issue of voting machines, but misleading in that it is not part of the matter immediately at hand.

Finally, nowhere in your article do you mention that State Representative Mark Alliegro has introduced legislation to remove voting machines statewide, an indicator that this is not some fringe movement.

What baffles me is why there is such resistance to the warrant articles and simply placing the matter of machine vote counting on a ballot and letting people decide.  If it is such a bad idea, then surely the people in office have nothing to fear.  The smart and informed citizens of New Hampshire will see clear to reject the proposal and allow the continued use of machine vote counting.  What is there to lose?

I had the occasion in October to attend a meeting in Dallas at the offices of Authentix, the top authentication company in the world which protects currencies from counterfeiting.  They have designed a paper ballot that effectively cannot be counterfeited.  During the meeting a representative made a clear, almost axiomatic, statement:  The only people against counterfeiting measures are the counterfeiters.

In that spirit, I ask, “Who exactly is against giving the people of New Hampshire the right to decide how their votes are counted, and why are they against giving them that right?”

That’s my question, and I believe it’s the question missing from your reporting.  Human Events will continue to keep an eye on events in New Hampshire.  We kind of like this grassroots activism.  Feels very, what’s the word?  American.

Brent E. Hamachek

Managing Editor, Human Events 

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