It’s official: Attorney Eric Forcier will serve as the state-appointed monitor of Bedford’s upcoming election, the final embarrassment to the upscale community resulting from its egregious mishandling of the 2020 general election.
“Attorney General John M. Formella announces that the Attorney General’s Office and Secretary of State’s Office have sent letters of appointment for election monitors following election reviews in Windham, Bedford, and Laconia Ward 6. The monitors are Eugene van Loan appointed to Windham, Eric Forcier appointed to Bedford, and Bonnie Winnona MacKinnon appointed for Laconia Ward 6,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a statement released Monday.
The months-long controversy in Bedford surrounding the 190 ballots that were never counted resulted in the secretary of state deciding the town will have a state-appointed official to oversee the September primary.
“As a result of the concerns and shortcomings described in this and our prior correspondences, the attorney general makes a finding that the November 2020 General Election returns from Bedford had significant deficiencies,” Myles Matteson of the state Attorney General’s Election Law Unit wrote to Bedford town officials. “The secretary of state, in consultation with the attorney general, will be appointing an election monitor for the next election, the September 13, 2022, primary election.”
In Laconia, the state forced Ward 6 Election Moderator Tony Felch after he was found responsible for numerous errors that resulted in 179 ballots not getting counted. A report released this month by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office found Felch did not act intentionally when he made the errors.
“Instead of the errors and failures described above being caused by knowing actions, they were driven by Moderator Felch’s complete failure to understand the duties and operations of elections and his role as the moderator,” the report states.
In Windham, vote total discrepancies led the state to hire outside auditors to review that election. The discrepancies turned out to have been caused by folded ballots being misread by the uncalibrated optical scanning vote counters. A January letter from Formella and then-Secretary of State William Gardner blamed the errors on local election officials.
“(S)imply put, town election officials cut corners. Some of those shortcuts created errors—such as using an uncalibrated folding machine—which were unintentional and perhaps unforeseeable, but ultimately resulted in ballots not being accurately counted,” Formella and Gardner wrote.
“The monitors are appointed to work with election officials and review the conduct of the upcoming election to ensure compliance with New Hampshire law,” the statement from Formella’s office reads.
The three election monitors will then submit reports on the election, and the local compliance with election law, within 30 days of the Sept. 13 primary.