Rep. Sue Homola: Improve election integrity with a limited audit

TWO BILLS aimed at auditing the November 2020 election were heard in the House Election Law Committee recently, one of which was HB 1473. Getting lost in the media reporting are some relevant facts from HB 1473 testimony, which highlights why we need to evaluate this past election to ensure voter integrity going forward.

Over the past few months, a group of citizens took it upon themselves to canvass the election results of two towns using publicly-available data. They also did statistical analysis of voter turnout. They did this because the agencies and elected officials tasked with overseeing election integrity were non-responsive to their requests. Here is what they found:

Rockingham County ballots cast grew 1% in 2012, 1% in 2016, but had an unprecedented growth of 13% in 2020. Of note, one political party’s participation rate grew 25% — while the overall population only grew 2.2%.

The percentage change of Hillsborough County ballots cast was flat in 2012, declined by 1% in 2016, but grew 12% in 2020. Of note, one political party’s participation rate grew 23% while the overall population growth was only 1.7%.

New Hampshire had 21 towns that had a historically-unprecedented eligible voter turnout of 100%, (population was compared to the U.S. Census data). In addition, there were 124 towns with an equally unprecedented eligible voter turnout rate of 80%.

Vote canvass efforts revealed there were just under 8,000 people who cast ballots from nursing homes, with some nursing facilities being memory care facilities. In a single nursing home, there were thirty-five people who voted; ten died within a year and one person died right after the election. There were two people from a memory care center who died within months of the election.

The canvass team knocked on 904 doors and found 444 voters at home. The team confirmed that more than 13% of votes cast in the November 2020 election were made by people who should not have cast ballots, or whose ballot did not represent the method in which they voted. These included people who did not live at addresses they voted from, addresses that did not exit, votes cast from people who did not vote, same day voters who cited addresses from homes they did not reside at, and commercial addresses that should not have been used for residency purposes.

The canvass team has obtained signed affidavits from residents which testify to instances of phantom voting, and these have already been submitted to the Attorney General’s office.

With regard to the post-election process, each year the Secretary of State sends postcards to verify the same-day registrants and unverified voters, (even though their ballots have already been counted in the election results). This occurs within 90 days after the election. Those postcards that get “returned to sender” are compiled and the voters’ names are included in a report to the attorney general’s office for investigation. The AG’s office then investigates the individuals in question. The AG then reports this data to the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House in a report titled “Investigation Regarding Domicile and Qualified Voter Affidavits.

Reviewing past reports, I have discovered that approximately 20% of those individuals investigated cannot be located and the attorney general’s office ceased their investigation. Since this past spring, I have repeatedly requested a copy of the secretary of state’s report to the attorney general, which identifies those unverified individuals who voted in the November 3, 2020 election. In July 2021, I was told by the Secretary of State’s Office that due to the verification changes made in 2017 legislation, this data is now taking longer to verify and compile. I reached out again in November 2021 and received no response. I reached out again this past week and am still awaiting a response. This marks a delay of approximately 15 months after the November 2020 election.

Does all of this prove vote malfeasance? No. But it does tell us that a closer look at the November 3, 2020 election is warranted, because it will provide information on where New Hampshire’s election process is most vulnerable. Equally important, voter confidence is an essential part of our election security, and the confidence of many Granite Stater’s has been shaken during this past year. Whistling past the graveyard on this issue does nothing to restore that confidence. Ignoring anomalous, verified vote data undermines the faith in all legislative processes and decisions going forward.

Simply put, we need a limited-scope audit, as proposed in HB 1473, to serve as a blueprint for how we can move forward in securing future elections across New Hampshire.

Rep. Sue Homola (R-Hollis) represents Hillsborough County’s District 27.

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