It’s time for the city of Keene and The Keene Sentinel to show vision and leadership on the issue of voting system accountability.
I am urging them to make clear to the secretary of state that the city of Keene stands ready to do random audits (verification counts) of computer vote totals.
A citizen petition of 2015, a City Council meeting (September 2015) and several Sentinel editorials show clear public support for auditing of computer vote totals on election night to enhance election integrity.
This is not a new idea: Such audits were recommended by the N.H. Electronic Ballot Counting Device Advisory Committee on Nov. 30, 2009. Laws in 30 states and the District of Columbia — covering about 85 percent of the U.S. population — mandate some form of auditing. New Hampshire is not one of them.
But individual moderators could audit if they chose to do so — Danville and Brookline have done it for many years. In fact, New Hampshire’s Election Procedures Manual stated, year after year: “Moderators may use their discretion as to whether or not they will conduct such a (verification) count on election night.”
This sentence was removed, without any explanation, in the 2016-17 edition, published October 2016, one month after Mary Till, Derry’s moderator, did a random audit of one machine. The secretary of state reprimanded this highly professional moderator for doing so. High-handed? I think so.
Not only is it time to reestablish individual moderators’ rights to do verification counts, it’s time for the city of Keene to question what it was told by the secretary of state: that it was not “statutorily allowed” to do such audits.
In a meeting with me on Dec. 1, 2015, Keene’s city clerk, Patricia Little, stated that, if instructed to audit, she had a clear idea of how she would organize it so that it would not be an additional burden on a team that had worked a long, hard day. Ms. Little also said that, if asked, she would speak in favor of random verification counts.
I expect she will have a chance to do so at a meeting of moderators called by the secretary of state on June 21, at 2 p.m., at the Blastos Room at the Keene police station. I believe this meeting should also be open to the public. I plan to attend and encourage other interested citizens to do the same.