Granite State elections are free, fair, and accurate according to a report issued Thursday by the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Special Committee on Voter Confidence.
“Our electoral system works,” said Ambassador Dick Swett, the committee’s co-chair.
Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said while the report is non-binding, he and his staff will review the findings and address areas of concern identified during months of hearings and public listening sessions.
Scanlan said Thursday he hoped New Hampshire voters read the report and gain confidence in the elections held in the state. The report found more transparency is needed to make sure voters can see how the process works.
“Voters should be able to see the process and feel confident votes are collected, secure, and counted,” he said.
Scanlan created the committee to address concerns about the election process expressed by some Granite State residents. It was an issue former President Donald Trump put front and center in his 2024 presidential bid. While the committee found some minor concerns, Chair Bradford Cook said New Hampshire elections are free from systemic fraud and abuse and they are run by “friends and neighbors.”
“We listened to concerns, but all in all I think our report says and we believe New Hampshire elections are free from any systemic fraud,” Cook said. “Elections are designed to do one thing, elect the people who get the most votes or pass the resolutions that get the most votes, and our elections do that.”
A University of New Hampshire poll released earlier this month found 91 percent of Granite State residents are very or somewhat confident the November 2022 votes were counted accurately. Nationwide, 70 percent of Americans said in October voting was handled well.
Still, the report found more can be done to educate voters and election workers, adding to the confidence voters have in their elections. There is also a need to recruit more election workers, especially as many current election officials are aging and stepping down.
Swett said the committee heard from people who had specific complaints about the process or concerns about how some local election officials operated, which is reflected in the report. He wants to see the report open a dialogue in the state on how to strengthen the process.
“It has in it both the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Swett said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to be able to continue to improve the election process.”
He said that getting more people involved is vital to improving confidence and ensuring the process stays accurate and fair. He said that local involvement by regular voters for necessary to the functioning of that process.
“Being involved locally in your elections is what makes your elections safe and secure,” Swett said. “People need to get more involved by voting, volunteering, and making sure elections are fair and secure.”
The report was signed by seven of the eight committee members. The lone holdout was Windham’s Ken Eyring. He said Thursday he largely agrees with the report the committee issued but plans to present his own independent report to Scanlan that includes more emphasis on the concerns he heard from members of the public.
“I focused on capturing all public sentiment, positive and negative,” Eyring said. “I believe every concern should be presented (to Scanlan.)”
Eyring was involved in the Windham audit movement that questioned the results of that election after problems were found with the 2020 election in that town. An independent audit of Windham found folded ballots misread by machines resulted in skewed vote totals.
A subsequent state review also faulted local officials for compounding the errors by cutting corners ahead of the 2020 election according to a January letter from New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella and then-Secretary of State William Gardner to Windham town officials. Windham officials reportedly used an uncalibrated machine to tabulate the votes and skimped on a practice run that would have likely caught the issue before the election. The state required an election observer to oversee the election in 2022 in Windham to make sure it stayed free from potential problems.
Scanlan said his office is already working on addressing many of the concerns found by the committee, and he plans to bring proposals to the state’s Ballot Law Commission in the coming months for consideration.
The full committee report will be available online in the coming week.