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Gargiulo Wants Elections Fixed After Senate Loss

Lou Gargiulo has a message for state officials when it comes to New Hampshire elections: Do better.

“People have fought and died for elections, and they need to believe there is a fair election process,” Gargiulo told the Ballot Law Commission Wednesday.

Gargiulo and his attorney, Corey MacDonald, presented evidence on Wednesday to the Ballot Law Commission they believe shows the failures of local election officials last fall. 

“These are systemic issues that can be addressed,” MacDonald said.

What Gargiulo and MacDonald were not doing on Wednesday was attempting to challenge the election and subsequent recount.

Gargiulo and his supporters pored through public record after the Hampton Falls Republican lost the District 24 Senate seat to Democrat Debra Altschiller. They looked at everything from ballot-counting machines, absentee ballots and the way ballot boxes were packed up and marked for the recount. The group spent 700 hours compiling data.

Gargiulo lost to Altschiller by 3,683 votes on Election Day, more than 11 percent of the vote total. The recount found more votes for Altchiller, and her lead extended to more than 3,700 votes. Gargiulo challenged the recount in court, trying to find fault with every absentee ballot cast. His lawsuit was dropped in December, and the Ballot Law Commission agreed to hear his grievances as part of the resolution to his legal challenge.

MacDonald told the Ballot Law Commission he was skeptical when approached by Gargiulo about the election data, thinking it was a case of “sour grapes.” Instead, he said Gargiulo and his supporters found real issues with how elections are conducted. 

No evidence presented, however, showed the November election results were ultimately wrong.

The fact New Hampshire elections can improve is no surprise to Secretary of State David Scanlan. He created the Special Committee on Voter Confidence, which heard hours of testimony from people throughout the state. It worked through reams of evidence, looking at what problems exist in New Hampshire elections and what can be done to improve them. 

The committee’s report issued in December found more needs to be done to educate the people who run elections, mostly volunteers, as well as some local elected officials.

Scanlan told MacDonald and Gargiulo their presentation brought up a lot of areas that should be addressed and a lot that are being addressed. Scanlan maintains the state is heading in the right direction regarding election integrity.

“All the processes surrounding elections are transparent,” Scanlan said. “That’s how we get confidence.”

Ballot Law Commission Chair Bradford Cook reminded Gargiulo the reason he was able to make his hour-long presentation on Wednesday was that the committee agreed to hear him as a way of resolving the lawsuit over the recount.

“We agreed to do this because we thought you should be heard somewhere,” Cook said.

Cook recommended sending MacDonald and Gargiulo’s report to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and Scanlan’s team for further review and possible action.

“We want our elections to be as reliable and confidence-inspiring as possible,” Cook said.

It’s not clear what, if anything, the attorney general will do with Gargiulo’s data. Gargiulo and his attorney asked the Ballot Law Commission to create a new committee to dig deeper into their data and recommend improvements above and beyond efforts already underway.

“What we want is a forward-look plan of action,” MacDonald said. 

AG Investigating Election Law Violations Ahead of Town Meeting

Anonymous election mailers and unsigned political websites are becoming too common in New Hampshire as cities and towns prepare for their school and town meetings, and Attorney General John Formella is advising the public to be wary.

Formella’s office announced Tuesday it is dealing with five election law violations this week, days before the start of the town and school meeting season.

“As the elections are so close, the identities of these individuals may not be known prior to the elections. As a result, (Formella) reminds voters to do their own research on candidates and warrant articles before they vote,” the statement from Formella’s office stated. 

Town meeting season, the oldest form of democracy in the United States, traditionally starts the second Tuesday of March. Formella’s office cites five reported cases of election law violations designed to impact voters.

People are encouraged to engage in the elections through mailers, websites, and other forms of campaigning, but they need to follow the law. Political communications and political signs— “express advocacy” communications—are required to have information identifying the person or entity responsible for the advertising, known as “paid-for” disclaimers, under New Hampshire law, the Attorney General’s Office reminded the public.

“Political advertising, mailers, and signs are one of the treasured traditions of New Hampshire elections. They are also a physical expression of people’s First Amendment right of free speech. However, voters also have a right, under New Hampshire law, to know who is issuing political advertising in support or opposition to a candidate or a question on the ballot,” Formella’s statement read.

Two of the five complaints investigated this week resulted in the people responsible being identified.

In Thornton, unidentified flyers were sent directing voters to visit the website “” The website, also unidentified, told voters to vote “NO” on certain warrant articles at the March 9 school district meeting. 

The Attorney General’s Election Law Unit and Thornton Chief of Police Daniel Gilman tracked the flier and website to a group of approximately 20 Thornton residents, including David Rivers, who is responsible for the “” website. Bob Hatch was identified as the person who is responsible for the flyers. Rivers was directed to correct the website to comply with the law.   

In Milford, anonymous “Community Help LLC” published the website “” which contains endorsements of candidates and warrant articles on the Milford ballot for the March 14 election. Jeff Horn was later identified as the person responsible, and he will be correcting the website and adding his name to future political material.

However, investigations into three more anonymous websites remain open. That includes Raymond’s “” website; the “” site trying to influence the Newfields elections; and the anonymous mailers in Hollis telling people to vote “no” on the town’s warrant article 2. The Hollis fliers were mailed under a Tampa, Fla. postal permit. 

However, the biggest open case of election fraud is from the 2022 Republican primary in New Hampshire’s Second Congressional District. A Democratic-affiliated print shop shipped at least four different illegal mailers designed to influence the GOP primary. The printer, Reynolds DeWalt Corporation, refused to reveal who paid for the mailers, prompting Formella to open an investigation last September.

The mailers were part of a successful effort to get MAGA Republican Bob Burns the GOP nomination, who was handily defeated by Democrat Rep. Annie Kuster in November.

Asked about the status of the illegal mailer case, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s Office said the investigation remains active and ongoing.

Jan. 6 Convict Plans Another Run for Congress

He’s tan, rested, and ready after serving jail time for his role in the Jan. 6 riots.  Now Granite Stater Jason Riddle is planning another run for Congress.

Riddle, a Cheshire County Republican, plans to challenge Second Congressional District Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton) in 2024. He tried to run in 2022 but couldn’t get his campaign off the ground. He blames a lack of support from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office and Republicans for his failure to launch — not to mention the fact that he was behind bars.

“Prison life, combined with getting nudged out of the way, led to discouragement and me quitting,” Riddle said.

Now that he is a free man again, Riddle is gearing up for another run. Though he is currently not allowed to leave New Hampshire as part of his probation — including travel to Washington, D.C. —  he is sure he will be able to serve if elected. 

“I’m currently on probation and technically barred from leaving the immediate area, but that will be a mere inconvenient speed bump on my way back to the Capitol,” Riddle said.

The last time Riddle, 34, was at the U.S. Capitol he was part of the violent mob instigated by former President Donald Trump that stormed the building, sending lawmakers into hiding. Riddle did not commit any acts of overt violence, according to court records, though he did steal wine and other items from congressional offices.

Riddle also took numerous selfies and videos during the riot, posted them to social media, gave numerous interviews with television and print publications, and shared his photos and videos with members of the press. He ended up sentenced to three months in jail for taking part in the breach at the Capitol.

Before he was sentenced, Riddle announced his intention to run for Congress against Kuster and again spoke to the media about his plans. During interviews leading up to his nascent candidacy, it became clear Riddle did not know Kuster served in D.C. He indicated he thought she was a state representative who worked in Concord.

Riddle is a former postal worker and a Navy veteran. He was separated from the Navy in 2011 due to alcohol abuse, according to court documents.

Richard Merkt, former chairman of the Cheshire County GOP, was unaware of Riddle’s plan to run in 2024. He said most of the party is currently focused on planning for the next election and working out the right message rather than seeking out potential candidates.

“The focus more for the Republican Party is, now, trying to craft our message for the next election. We’re making sure we have a good response to what our Democratic friends want to do,” Merkt said.

Whoever runs for Congress will need to be someone who can solidify the GOP base while still attracting independents who can swing an election. That candidate will need to be able to address serious issues in a way that resonates with voters.

Though Kuster has been in Congress for 12 years, she is not invincible, Merkt said. She has the advantage of out-of-state fundraising, and she has been fortunate with her opponents, but the right candidate could prevail. Merkt did not address Riddle’s qualifications, instead simply noting there is nothing to stop him from making a run.

“Pretty much anybody who’s not barred by law can run for a nomination,” Merkt said.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that misdemeanor convictions like Riddle’s one count of theft of government property and one count of illegal parading in a government building do not prohibit someone from seeking office. People are free to run as long as they are not imprisoned or under any probation or supervision.

Riddle expects to be completely done with his probation once it is time to file to run in June of 2024.