CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Yesterday, the team conducting a forensic audit into the Windham, New Hampshire election results from the 2020 election released its final report, determining that folds in some mailed absentee ballots were misread as votes by ballot-counting machines, creating “overvotes” where the ballot is rejected under current law. HB 491, which was recommended ITL along party lines and never brought to the House floor this year, would have prevented the Windham discrepancy by requiring “overvote” ballots to be returned to the voter for correction or hand-counted. Representative Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsborough), prime sponsor of HB 491, released the following statement:
“For years, we have known that seemingly minor irregularities on ballots – like smudged ink or a fold through a candidate’s name – can be misread by ballot-counting machines as ‘overvotes’ resulting in no votes for the office in question being counted. Under current law, voters are given zero notice that their completed ballot was read as an ‘overvote’ by the machine and will not count. This process disenfranchises voters, as the Windham recount revealed.
The bill I sponsored simply required voting machines to reject ‘overvote’ ballots and either return the ballot to the voter for correction, or in the case of absentee ballots, placed aside for hand counting by election officials. This would have prevented the situation that arose in Windham, because the overvote ballots would have either been fixed or correctly hand-counted the first time.
Unfortunately, this simple bill was rejected by Republicans in the House Election Law Committee, and in a break from established legislative practice, not even brought to the House floor for a vote. If a State Representative candidate in Windham had not requested a recount, hundreds of voters in that community would have been disenfranchised. None of their votes for State Representative would have counted, and they never would have known.
This simple, common-sense legislation would have prevented the disenfranchisement of voters, and the national headlines New Hampshire had to endure questioning our election process. I will be refiling this bill next year and hope that Republicans now understand the importance of assuring election results are accurate.”