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‘Election Day’-Ja Vu: Windham Ballot Problems Discovered

Here we go again. 

On the eve of the primary election came reports out of Windham that ballots are being folded with the crease going through the voting oval, apparently repeating the same errors that led to an extensive audit of the town’s ballot system after the 2020 election.

According to reports, absentee ballots sent to Windham voters ahead of Tuesday’s primary have been folded twice, with the creases going through the ovals. The same improper folds on absentee ballots in 2020 resulted in anomalous results and new state oversight of the vote.

Windham Town Clerk Nicole Merrill could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Town Hall staff said she was away at Windham High School setting up for the election.

Both Anna Fay with the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office, and Michael Garrity with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office said state election monitors will be on hand Tuesday to make sure the election goes off smoothly.

“There will be an election monitor at the Windham polling place tomorrow. If there are any problems with improper folds or other issues, they will act accordingly,” Fay said.

Windham is one of three communities that will have state monitors in place to oversee the primary election due to multiple errors found in the 2020 voting process.

Windham, Bedford and Ward 6 in Laconia will all have election monitors in place In Windham, the audit found the vote total discrepancy was due to the improper folds. The folds in the paper ballots made it difficult for optical scan vote counters, AccuVote machines, to record the votes properly.

A state review also faulted local officials for compounding the errors by cutting corners, according to a January letter from New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella and Secretary of State William Gardner to Windham town officials.

“(S)imply out, 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,” the letter states.

The state ended up paying at least $123,000 for the outside experts to audit Windham’s voting totals.

In Bedford, a months-long controversy over 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.

In Laconia, a joint investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office and the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office found that 179 ballots went uncounted after the 2020 general election. The errors in this case were blamed on Ward 6 moderator Tony Felch.

“The ballots in the side compartment were not counted because Laconia Ward 6 Moderator Felch did not understand the basic functions of the ballot collection box,” according to the Attorney General’s release on the matter.

Felch was forced to resign from his volunteer position as part of the resolution of the incident.

Attorney General: ‘Additional Investigation’ Underway in Bedford Ballot Case

More trouble for Bedford’s beleaguered election officials as the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has announced an “additional investigation” into the botched ballots from the town’s 2020 and 2021 elections.

Deputy General Counsel Myles Matteson filed a motion in the Hillsborough Superior Court – North in Manchester seeking a court order to open sealed ballot boxes and a sealed envelope containing election reports as part of the investigation, which was started after new information came to light.

“While it is clear that a number of absentee ballots were not cast and counted by Bedford election officials on November 3, 2020, important details that led to the error – and an accounting of officials’ attempts to reconcile the election returns – have yet to be determined,” Matteson wrote in the court filing. “Based on new information provided more recently through further interviews with Bedford officials, the attorney general must conduct additional investigation related to compliance with election laws.”

Bedford election officials mishandled 190 ballots during the 2020 election and those ballots were never counted. They compounded that error by covering up the mistake for 11 months, not telling the elected town council, and keeping it secret from the disenfranchised voters. Now, the Attorney General’s Office wants a full accounting of all mishandled ballots and full disclosure to the impacted voters.

“The purpose of the tally is to verify that the number of ballots—and the names on the affidavit envelopes—match the list created by Bedford election officials, to ensure that all voters whose ballots were not counted were properly notified,” Matteson told NH Journal.

The Attorney General’s Office began investigating the bungled ballots starting in November 2020, soon after being notified about the problem. Town election officials did not make any disclosure about the ballots until October 2021, after NH Journal broke the story.

According to a letter from the Attorney General’s Office sent to Bedford officials last year, the town was supposed to notify the 190 voters whose ballots were uncounted. Bill Klein, who was the Town Moderator during the election and subsequent fallout, made repeated claims to the contrary, saying he was directed by the attorney general to keep mum about the ballots.

“I was persistent in contacting (the Attorney General’s Office), because I thought it was wrong to not do something, including telling you and the voters way back as soon as we could,” he told town council members after the issue came to light in November 2021.

However, General Counsel Anne Edwards sent Klein and town election officials a scathing letter in November setting the record straight.

“At no time did the Attorney General’s Office direct the Bedford Election officials not to explain the situation with the 190 absentee ballots to the town council or any other person,” Edwards wrote.

According to Edwards, Klein could have disclosed the issue any time he wanted. And, she said, the town was specifically told to make that disclosure to voters starting in June and July 2021. Klein and others did not want to tell voters, according to Edwards.

“Since early June, our office has been in contact with Bedford election officials regarding possible remediation plans and investigative interviews,” Edwards wrote. “During those conversations, Bedford election officials raised concerns that they did not want to notify voters of the fact that their ballots were not counted. Our office directed that such a notification was a requirement of any remediation plan.”

While Klein’s claim the Attorney General’s office demanded silence was incorrect, someone did, in fact, instruct him to leave voters and the town council in the dark: Attorney and then-assistant Town Moderator Brian Shaughnessy.

Long after the letter with the false claim had been mailed to voters, Shaughnessy publicly acknowledged he had given the problematic legal advice to his fellow town officials. Shaughnessy admitted it during the November 2021 town council meeting and during the New Hampshire Executive Council hearing on his nomination to become a circuit court judge. (The GOP-controlled Council rejected Shaughnessy’s nomination by a 4-1 vote.)

Shaughnessy said he thought the investigation would be over in a matter of weeks, not months, and the information would come out. He also claimed the Attorney General’s Office never gave Klein permission to go public.

“The Attorney General investigation was a criminal investigation, and [Town Clerk] Sally [Kellar] and Bill [Klein] could be subject to criminal penalties including felonies,” he told the town council. “I told them to get permission from the Attorney General’s Office to share and they never received that permission until after the report came out.”

The Attorney General’s report came out in October 2021.

Klein also maintained that he never got permission to make the disclosure despite repeated calls to the Attorney General’s Office.

“I said, ‘Please get this thing going because we want to be able to get it over with. We want to be able to tell people, especially the voters,” Klein told the town council.

Edwards stated that was not true.

“Our office never instructed you not to tell anyone of the incident involving the 190 uncounted absentee ballots,” Edwards wrote to Klein.

While Shaughessy said he did not want the issue to become public, and told Klein and others not to talk, he also claimed there was no intention to hide the errors, given that the Attorney General’s Office would make the matter public at some point.

“It would be pure lunacy for them to try and hide this knowing that that (attorney general’s) letter was going to be issued, you would be notified, so there was no ill motive here to hide the ball. Who wins by hiding the ball?” Shaughnessy said.

But Klein did want to hide the ball, as it were, and dragged his feet on the notifications, according to Edwards. He was directed to make the notification in August and September and was finally told he would have to make the notifications after the September special election. 

During that special election, another unknown number of uncounted ballots were found from previous elections. That was kept quiet until November and resulted in another Attorney General’s Office investigation, which is also ongoing. 

The Attorney General’s Office has received permission from the courts to open the ballot boxes and envelopes in the Bedford case. Edwards told NHJournal it is part of the office’s due diligence.

“We are taking this very seriously. We want to confirm that any voter whose ballot wasn’t counted is notified and they have the information they have a right to,” Edwards said. “With respect to the ballots found during the 2021 special election, we want to confirm how many ballots there are, and if the number could have impacted the outcome of any race.

“That’s always a great concern to us,” Edwards said.

Shaughnessy Grilled by Executive Councilors Over Bedford Ballots 

CONCORD — Judicial nominee Brian Shaughnessy recited the Serenity Prayer early in his testimony before the Executive Council on Wednesday, an apt sentiment given the rough day he had answering questions about the Bedford 2020 election snafu.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” he said, explaining his life philosophy. “I try to live by those rules; they guide my life.”

Several executive councilors were less than serene about Shaughnessy’s nomination.

Councilors Cinde Warmington (D-District 2), Janet Stevens (R-District 3), and Dave Wheeler (R-District 5) hammered Shaughnessy over his role in the investigation and coverup of 190 uncast ballots found after the 2020 presidential election. Shaughnessy was a volunteer assistant town moderator during that election, having previously served six years as the town moderator.

The most contentious issue was Shaughnessy’s strategy, which he presented as legal advice, for his fellow election officials to keep the fact they had bungled the absentee ballots secret from both the public and the elected town council.

Shaughnessy told Warmington under questioning he advised Town Clerk Sally Keller and Town Moderator Bill Klein not to talk about the matter until the Attorney General’s Office completed its investigation. However, when asked, Shaughnessy told council members no one from the Attorney General’s Office told him it was a criminal investigation.

That echoes another falsehood Shaughnessy acknowledged during a town hall meeting in November when he confirmed he had told town employees they could face criminal charges themselves — perhaps even felony charges — if they told the public about the election snafu. When questioned by the town council, Shaughnessy was unable to identify any such law.

Shaughnessy’s desire to keep the election fiasco secret was so strong, he told Warmington one reason he wanted Bedford election officials to keep the details from town council members was that it could create records that could be obtained by the public through the state’s Right to Know Law. 

“Anything told to the town council becomes public record,” he said.

Shaughnessy said he thought the investigation would be completed in a matter of weeks, and that would be the appropriate time to make public disclosures.

“We did not imagine it would be 11 months later that the Attorney General’s Office would complete their investigation,” he said. However, he didn’t explain why he and the other election officials continued to remain silent for nearly a year. 

Warmington took Shaughnessy to task for acting as Klein and Kellar’s de facto attorney, not making any public disclosure, and not contacting the town’s attorney about the matter. The ballot problems were not made public until NH Journal broke the story.

“Did you ever have concerns that keeping this secret would undermine Bedford voters’ confidence about elections?” Warmington asked.

Stevens wanted to know why Shaughnessy, or anyone involved, didn’t at least check with the Attorney General’s Office to see if it could make some kind of statement as the weeks and months passed. Shaughnessy conceded that could have been done, but he did not want to cast blame on others.

“Had I been moderator, would it have been different? More than likely, yes. But I’m not going to put that clickbait out there. That serves no purpose,” he said. “I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus.”

According to Anne Edwards of the Attorney General’s Office, its staff “had follow-up conversations with Bedford election officials, during August and September, about the need to provide notification to the 190 voters that their absentee ballots had not been counted during the 2020 General Election.

Bedford election officials raised concerns with this notification and asked not to notify voters,” Edwards said.

Klein testified in Shaughnessy’s favor, saying his assistant town moderator was not part of the problem, nor was he a subject of the investigation.

“He had nothing to do with any of that stuff,” Klein said.

Councilor Joe Kenney (R-District 1) did n0t mention the Bedford issue but instead asked Shaughnessy about tenant law and his resume. Councilor Ted Gatsas (R-District 4), who represents Bedford, asked no questions.

While Shaughnessy fielded some tough questions from the council members, several supporters testified on his behalf, including New Hampshire Supreme Court Associate Justice Jim Bassett.

“Having somebody like Brian on the bench would be an incredible asset,” Bassett said.

The council will now likely take up Shaughnessy’s nomination at its April meeting for a vote. In the meantime, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office has opened a second investigation into Bedford’s ballots. In September, 10 ballots from 2020 were found in a ballot box, and that information was kept from the public until NH Journal reported the story.

The Attorney General’s Office is investigating the circumstances surrounding the handling of those 10 ballots and has reopened the investigation into the 190 ballots. Shaughnessy said he is not a subject in either investigation.

“I think that with the immediacy of how things happen, I understand how you can make the decisions that are not the best in the moment,” Warmington told Shaughnessy as she wrapped up her questions. “But keeping that secret really did a disservice to the (town) council and the public.”

Sununu Taps Bedford ‘Ballot Fiasco’ Lawyer for Circuit Court Judgeship

“I like Chris Sununu. I’ve donated money to him. But this makes absolutely no sense.”

That was the reaction of a Bedford GOP donor to news the Republican governor has tapped Bedford assistant moderator Brian Shaughnessy to become a Circuit Court judge. 

Shaughnessy made headlines across the state — and critics say, a laughingstock of Bedford — with his mishandling of misplaced ballots during the 2020 election. And, critics note, the town is still under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office after the revelation of a second batch of mishandled ballots.

NHJournal first broke the news of 190 absentee ballots that were misplaced and left uncounted during the 2020 general election, and the decision of town officials to keep them secret for nearly a year. The town sent a letter to the 190 disenfranchised voters claiming they kept their failure to count all the ballots a secret from the town council and voters at the instruction of the Attorney General’s Office.

That claim turned out to be false. It was in fact Shaughnessy himself who advised his fellow town officials to leave voters and their elected representatives in the dark. The Attorney General’s Office took the unusual step of releasing a letter of its own disputing claims made by Bedford town officials.

“I would never say that an elected official lied,” Attorney General’s general counsel Anne Edwards told NHJournal at the time.“We felt it was important to issue a clarification because we were concerned about the accuracy of some of the statements.”

During a contentious meeting in November, Shaugnessy told the Town Council “we don’t work for you,” in response to their complaints. And he acknowledged the town had sent out false information and that he was the source of the call for secrecy.

“I gave out haphazard legal advice,” Shaughnessy told councilors. “I did not check with the town attorney.”

During that same meeting, he made the false claim that, if Bedford town officials had been transparent about their mishandling of ballots, they “could be subject to criminal penalties, including a felony.”

Under questioning by a town councilor, Shaughnessy conceded he did not know of any law or statute town officials could have violated by telling voters the truth.

Town Manager Rick Sawyer, Town Clerk Sally Kellar, Town Moderator William Klein, and Shaughnessy all narrowly survived a 4-3 vote on a “no-confidence” resolution before the council.

The news of Shaughnessy’s oversight of town elections went from bad to worse when a second batch of mishandled ballots was discovered during the September 2021 special recount but kept secret — again– from town officials until November.

“I don’t know why notification was not made immediately in September,” Bedford Town Manager Rick Sawyer wrote in an email to the town council at the time.

Meanwhile, Shaughnessy continues to insist he has handled the issues properly and that voters and their elected representatives have no right to transparency when it comes to the handling of their ballots by town officials like himself.

“No one has pointed to any law, rule,  or other legal authority that states that the moderator or town clerk, also elected officials, had an obligation to inform anyone other than the secretary of state’s office,” Shaughnessy told NHJournal in November.

Shaughnessy is running for the job of town moderator in the March 8 elections. Despite an effort by several local Republican leaders to recruit another candidate, he is on the ballot unopposed. (At least one candidate, Hanan Wiseman, is mounting a write-in campaign.)

Many of those same Republicans were livid when they learned of Sununu’s choice, though they were reluctant to speak out against the governor on the record.

Off the record, they complain Shaughnessy’s pick will reignite the issue of ballot security and the #StopTheSteal narrative many believe is hurting Republicans with moderate voters.

“Mike Lindell finally leaves town and now he [Sununu] does this?” one Bedford Republican complained.

The GOP donor added, “Ballot security is a big issue with Republican voters, and the [Executive Council] has already been through a lot for Sununu. I’m not sure they’re going to go along with this.”

Sununu declined to respond to a request for comment. Shaughnessy’s nomination goes before the Executive Council next month.


EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported Shaughnessy is being considered for a judgeship on the Superior Court. It is the Circuit Court. NHJournal regrets the error.

Bedford Official Behind 2020 Ballot Fiasco Running Unopposed for Town Moderator

Despite overseeing the 2020 Bedford ballot fiasco and declaring he does not work for the voters, assistant Town Moderator Brian Shaughnessy is going to ask those same voters to elect him to the Town Moderator’s job.

He is the only candidate filed to appear on the March 8 ballot. 

Bedford’s election officials, including Shaughnessy, current Moderator Bill Kline, and Town Clerk Sally Kellar all came under investigation from the Attorney General’s Office over their mishandling of the 2020 election ballots.

On Shaughnessy’s legal advice, town officials kept the existence of 190 uncounted absentee ballots a secret from both the Town Council and the public for nearly a year. After NHJournal broke the story, town officials tried to blame the Attorney General’s Office and the New Hampshire Secretary of State for leaving voters in the dark. They sent a letter to voters falsely claiming they were ordered to remain silent by state officials.

The Attorney General’s Office responded with a letter contradicting the claim and putting the burden back on Bedford’s town officials.

“Bedford election officials raised concerns with this notification and asked (us) not to notify voters,” Senior Assistant Attorney General Anne Edwards told NHJournal.

Asked if Shaughnessy, Kline, and Kellar were telling the truth, Edwards replied, “I would never say that an elected official lied. We felt it was important to issue a clarification because we were concerned about the accuracy of some of the statements.”

When confronted at a Town Council meeting in October, Shaughnessy admitted he was the person who recommended town officials keep their failure a secret. He also doubled down on the decision.

“We don’t work for you,” Shaughnessy told the council.

Town Moderator Bill Klein acknowledged those voters “were disenfranchised,” but he stood by the decision not to inform them. “We believe we did the right thing,” Klein said. “We report to the secretary of state. We do not report to the Town Council.”

According to the secretary of state’s office, that is untrue.

In November, town officials became aware of more ballot snafus. This time, an unknown number of uncast 2020 ballots were found inside a voting box in September 2021. The ballots were not reported until November, and town officials tried to keep that news from leaking. The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office responded by opening an investigation and seizing the town’s ballot boxes.

Town officials are still refusing to confirm the existence of those additional mishandled ballots.

Shaughnessy has previously served as Bedford Town Moderator. Asked about seeking the office amid the current controversies, he remained unrepentant.

“Which recent controversies are you referring to? The AG’s office interviewed me and other Bedford election officials last month in connection with a renewed interest in the 190 absentee ballots, and the ballots found in a ballot container. I do not consider these events controversies, they are facts,” he said in an email to NHJournal.

“I understand that, at the request of the Town Manager, the Town Moderator and Town Clerk met with the Town Attorney who advised that they should not talk about the issues while the AG is investigating, which coincidentally is the same ‘half-cocked legal advice’ I was accused of providing when I appeared before the Town Council.

“I will follow the advice of the Town Attorney and not discuss those matters until the AG has finished its investigation.”

Sources inside state government tell NHJournal Bedford’s handling of the 2020 ballots is still under review by state officials.

Laconia Joins List of NH Towns With Ballot Snafus in 2021

More stray ballots from the 2020 general election have been found during a 2021 election, this time in Laconia. And the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office is investigating.

Ballots were reportedly found in a voting machine in September, more than 10 months after the 2020 election. Deputy General Counsel Myles Matteson with Attorney General’s Office said the ballots weren’t reported to his office until this month. Matteson said Wednesday he is unsure why the city took almost three months to report them.

“We don’t have further information to share on that at this point but our investigation is ongoing,” Matteson said.

Laconia officials are not talking. City Clerk Cheryl Hebert, City Manager Scott Myers, and Mayor Andrew Hosmer all declined to respond to requests for comment from New Hampshire Journal on Wednesday.

According to the Concord Monitor, most municipalities in New Hampshire use AccuVote optical scanning systems to tabulate paper ballots. When a voter fills out a ballot, it is scanned and dropped into a secure box connected to the scanner. 

Hebert told the Monitor the city uses an option in the ballot-counting system which allows some ballots to be diverted to a special partitioned section of the box. But she would not say if the ballots discovered in September were found in the special partition. Matteson said whatever happened, it was not the machine’s fault.

“There is no indication that the ballots were left in the ballot collection box because of machine error,” he said.

Representatives for AccuVote are unavailable for comment this week due to the Christmas holiday.

Matteson said the total number of found ballots is not known at this time, but he said they would not change the outcome of any race. While the problem may not be a mechanical error, some Granite Staters in the so-called voter integrity movement want to do away with all voting machines.

The New Hampshire Voter Integrity group is an online community that includes conspiracy theorists who believe Donald Trump won the 2020 election. An effort to get rid of the voting machines in Greenland recently failed overwhelmingly at the ballot box, though there are more plans in other towns to get rid of the machines.

The AccuVote optical scanners used in New Hampshire were generally manufactured in the 1990s, and do not have the ability to go onto the internet, or even be accessed by Bluetooth devices. That has not stopped conspiracy theories from speculating the vote totals were manipulated because of the machines.

The Laconia ballot error is similar to ballot mishaps in Bedford, Merrimack, and Nottingham when stray ballots were found months later.

Bedford tried and failed to keep word of its ballot mishandling secret. Last year, 190 absentee ballots in the November 2020 general election were mistakenly placed among counted ballots and weren’t found until five days later. Town election officials, at the suggestion of Assistant Town Brian Shaughnessy, kept their existence secret from town councilors and the general public — including the 190 disenfranchised voters.

Last month, Town Manager Rick Sawyer sent members of the Town Council an email informing them that another stash of counted 2020 ballots had been found in a ballot box in September during the special election. It took the town weeks to tell anyone about these ballots. Senior Assistant Attorney General Anne Edwards confirmed she’s investigating that latest ballot snafu. Edwards had all of Bedford’s ballot boxes seized as part of the investigation.

According to emails obtained by New Hampshire Journal, Town Council Chairman Dan Gilbert was upset that the news of the ballots had gone public. He told councilors not to answer questions about the ballots.

“I have asked for a meeting with our town attorney, town clerk, and town moderator to decide on a course of action in this matter. Please refrain from asking questions or making any comments until a path forward is decided on. I am very disturbed that someone already spoke to the NH Journal about this matter,” Gilbert wrote.

Documents Confirm Second Bedford Ballot Fiasco as AG’s Office Announces Investigation

Documents obtained by New Hampshire Journal confirm Bedford town officials discovered still more mishandled ballots in September 2021 and, like the 190 uncounted ballots from November, are attempting to hide their discovery from the public.

Meanwhile, an attorney with the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office has told NHJournal it is preparing to begin an investigation into the matter.

Bedford Town Manager Rick Sawyer sent members of the Town Council an email on Tuesday informing them more ballots from the 2020 election were discovered by town staff, who kept their existence secret until this week.

“I am making you aware that the Town Clerk (Sally Kellar) just walked into my office with an envelope that she says contains cast ballots from the November 2020 election and that were found in a voting box in the September 2021 Special Election and handed to her,” Sawyer wrote. “I advised her immediately to contact the town attorney and the appropriate state officials. If it is as described, these ballots were counted in the election but would not have been available for the recount. I don’t know why notification was not made immediately in September.”

Sources tell NHJournal town election officials have no plan to reveal this information to the public. It’s still not clear how many ballots were discovered in this second incident, and they refused to answer questions about the ballots, or even acknowledge their existence to NHJournal.

The 2020 state Senate election in Bedford was close enough for a recount between incumbent Democrat Jeanne Dietsch and Republican Denise Ricciardi. Dietsch called off the recount halfway through, leaving Ricciardi with a 409-vote margin.

Town officials say the 190 uncast absentee ballots they discovered last November and hid from the public for nearly a year would not have changed any election results.

Kellar hung up when asked questions about the ballots on Tuesday, after saying that no ‘uncast ballots’ were found, an apparent attempt to mislead the reporter. Sawyer, Town Moderator Bill Klein, and Town Council Chair David Gilbert, and Vice-Chair Bill Carter were all contacted for this story. They all failed to respond.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Anne Edwards said Wednesday her office is aware of the latest ballot problem in Bedford and is looking into the matter.

“Yesterday, we were made aware of an issue regarding ballots in Bedford. At this time, we do not have detailed information. We will be investigating this situation,” Edwards said. 

Senior Assistant Town Moderator Brian Shaughnessy played a leadership role in the November 2020 general election and now admits that he — and not the Attorney General’s Office — is the source of the decision to keep the mishandled ballots secret from the public and town council. But on Wednesday, he told NHJournal he was completely unaware of the discovery of any additional ballots or a second snafu.

“I’m a volunteer that gets appointed at the election,” he said. “I would not normally be kept in the loop.”

The town enacted a series of election reforms after the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office investigated, Shaughnessy said. He blamed the issues from 2020 on the unprecedented number of absentee ballots cast during the pandemic election. 

“It was a unique situation with 7,700 absentee ballots,” he said. “We generally don’t need 50 volunteers to open envelopes.”

At last week’s Town Council meeting, Shaughnessy insisted he and the other election officials “did the right thing” by keeping the story about the 190 ballots a secret for nearly a year. 

“We don’t work for you,” was Shaughnessy’s answer when councilors asked why elected representatives of Bedford’s citizens were left in the dark. Klein acknowledged those voters “were disenfranchised,” but he stood by the decision not to inform them.