By Bob Giuda
After November’s general election, Democrat candidate Kristi St. Laurent requested a recount of the Windham State Representative race. The November 12 hand recount produced a 300-vote increase for all 4 Republican candidates and a 99-vote decrease for her.
The recount didn’t change the outcome, but no one could explain the huge 6% increase in Republican votes or the 2% decrease in St. Laurent’s.
On November 16th, St. Laurent appealed the recount, asking the Ballot Law Commission for an investigation into the machine count error.
On November 19th, the Attorney General received a letter from Windham town counsel Bernard Campbell requesting an investigation into the machine count error. The AG never replied to that request.
At its November 23rd meeting, the Ballot Law Commission “…voted unanimously to request the Attorney General to look into the functioning of the voting machines on election day, and to join in the request of the town for a general review and investigation of the circumstances involved.”
During a December 10th conference call with Secretary of State Gardner, he stated that he didn’t know what happened, that NH didn’t use Dominion machines, and expressed his support for an investigation into the machine count error.
On December 13th, the Attorney General received a 9-page email from Dr. David Strang of Gilmanton asking for an investigation into the machine count error.
On December 15th, I emailed the Attorney General a letter expressing my serious concern about the Windham machine count error, and we agreed to meet with Dr. Strang via WebEx to discuss his letter.
During the January 4, 2021, WebEx discussion, Attorney General (now Chief Justice) Gordon MacDonald stated that he “didn’t have the statutory authority to investigate.” However, on January 6th, under increasing scrutiny, his Election Law office requested and subsequently received town documents, but continued to assert that they didn’t have the authority to check the ballots or investigate the machines despite the language in RSA 7:6(c) which specifically gives them that authority.
On January 8th, I emailed a letter cosigned by Sen. Birdsell (Windham is in her district) to the AG asking for a planned completion date for the investigation, including the machines. We never received a reply.
Also that same day, AG MacDonald stepped down from his position, preparing to be confirmed as NH’s next Chief Justice.
During the most recent conference call on February 5th, associate AG Ann Edwards and Election Law chief Nicholas Chong Yen reiterated the department’s refusal to test the voting machines or count the ballots. They also refused to consider obtaining a court order to alleviate their concerns about statutory authority under RSA 7:6(c).
This isn’t a partisan issue; it’s a matter of election integrity. The town, the Secretary of State, the Democrat candidate, the Ballot Law Commission, a concerned citizen, and a Republican State Senator asked the NH Department of Justice to investigate the largest machine count error in NH history. The department refused.
This refusal by those charged with ensuring the integrity of our elections is inexcusable. Absent legal action – which would probably wind up in a Supreme Court led by Chief Justice MacDonald – we will never know what happened in Windham, or if any machine count errors occurred in the nearly 200 other towns that use those machines today.
In choosing not to investigate the Windham incident, the Department of Justice failed our state and her citizens, both of whom had every right to expect a prompt, thorough investigation into the still-unexplained largest recount error in state history.
Bob Giuda is a Republican State Senator from Warren