The voter confidence report
The special committee’s report and recommendations is a must-read for Granite Staters
On April 26, 2022, New Hampshire Secretary of State David M. Scanlan announced the appointment of a Special Committee on Voter Confidence. The mission of the committee was to “work to identify root causes of voter confidence decline and make recommendations to reverse the trend.” He named eight members to the committee, including me, and everyone hoped its report would be produced in early fall.
On Dec. 22, the committee issued its report, after almost eight months of public hearings, at which hundreds of witnesses in person and by email and other written submission, and several drafting sessions. Seven of the eight members voted in favor of the report, and one submitted a revised report, believing that it was up to the secretary of state, and not the committee, to draw conclusions.
The obvious reason for the committee’s existence was the furor created in 2020, when the defeated candidate for president refused to accept the results, made false claims of “massive fraud” and was echoed in social media and right-wing broadcast outlets, causing confusion, concern and doubt in some quarters. While the committee was working, the 2022 elections occurred, and winners won, losers conceded defeat (in almost all cases), elections were certified and polls showed overwhelming confidence in the elections. New Hampshire voter confidence after that election had returned to pre-2020 levels, for the most part.
The committee report could just have pointed to the 2022 results as a reason for confidence, but instead issued a 14-page report, which summarized the testimony, made findings and recommendations for action.
Testimony ranged from those expressing confidence in New Hampshire elections and even questioning the need for the committee and fears that its existence could contribute to a decline in confidence, to witnesses expressing no confidence or finding fault with certain aspects of elections. Claims of law violation were referred to the state attorney general’s office, as that is outside of the scope of ability for the committee to act.
The main findings of the report were:
• Voting is accessible and easy in New Hampshire, as regularly found in polls of voters and voter turnout among the highest in the nation.
• Most New Hampshire voters have confidence in elections and have in the past.
Reasons for this include each voter having a ballot, elections conducted by neighbors and friends voters know, quick reporting of results on election night, and processes for catching and correcting errors.
• New Hampshire is served well by its local officials and volunteers who take voting and election security seriously.
• There is no evidence of widespread fraud with only isolated incidents of multiple voting by individuals or other violations.
• New Hampshire elections are accurate — those for whom the most votes are cast win!
• Paper ballots instill confidence, and our ballot counting devices work well.
• Updating voter checklists on a regular basis is important to keep confidence high.
• Including all potential voters in the process is important and increases confidence.
Among the recommendations made by the report for future action were these:
• Expand and publicize training for local officials beyond the good processes in place now.
• Continue to recruit election officials and volunteers to reinforce and succeed those who have been working on elections for a long time, to continue the quality we have come to expect.
• Make sure officials and voters are protected and secure in performing their duties and voting.
• Publicize the good work of election officials and encourage appreciation of their efforts.
• Educate the public on how to vote, why it is important and how easy it is, using all the tools available to do so.
• Expand the use of post-election audits to increase confidence.
• Encourage the certification of new ballotcounting devices to replace the aging machines in use, with appropriate standards for selection.
• Review election laws to see if they can be streamlined and clear.
• Expand the ability of citizens to observe all parts of the election process since transparency increases confidence.
• Fund needed changes in the process.
• Make voter information available easily.
Conclusion: New Hampshire elections are accurate, should and do inspire confidence, are well-run by our friends and neighbors, do not experience any meaningful fraud, and are an example to the nation. All New Hampshire citizens should read the report, educate themselves on the voting process, and vote. Our state and nation depend on it.
Brad Cook is a Manchester attorney, chair of the state Ballot Law Commission and co-chair of the Secretary of State’s Voter Confidence Committee. The views expressed in this column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.