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Windham, New Hampshire election forensic audit begins Tuesday

New Hampshire Secretary of State Gardner and AG Formella announced details of the Windham election audit after Kristi St. Laurent lost NH House race by 24 votes

WINDHAM, N.H. — EDITORS NOTE: The above 'Political Brew' video was published May 9th. 

A dispute about the vote count in a New Hampshire legislative election is driving a debate among conservatives about the fairness of the country's election process. 

Kristi St. Laurent, who ran for a House seat in the 2020 election, requested a recount after losing the 2020 election by 24 votes. 

The debate over the integrity of the election in Windham has prompted Trump supporters to suggest the dispute could illustrate wider problems with the election system. Former President Donald Trump joined the fray, promoting his broader claim of election fraud from 2020.

According to the Associated Press, the dust-up shows just how far Trump's election lies, and the search for evidence to support them has burrowed into American politics, even at the local level. 

In the nation's capital, House Republicans are fighting over what some call the "Big Lie." 

In Arizona, lawmakers are conducting a partisan "recount." And now it's playing out in small-town Windham, New Hampshire, where there's a fight over last year's state House election.

New Hampshire Secretary of State William M. Gardner and Attorney General John M. Formella said in a press release Sunday afternoon that the audit will begin Tuesday, May 11. 

"The Forensic Election Audit Team will begin the Audit on Tuesday, May 11, 2021, at 10 A.M. Pursuant to New Hampshire Senate Bill 43, the forensic election audit must take place within 45 days of the effective date of April 12, 2021, which is May 27, 2021," officials said in the release. 

The release details how Gardner will choose the observers:

  • Senate Bill 43 gave the Secretary of State the responsibility of determining a method of selecting the 20 members of the public to observe the Election Audit of the 2020 General Election ballots from the town of Windham.  All 20 public observers must be New Hampshire voters.  
  • Ten of the individuals will be chosen as a result of their direct participation by voting in the presidential election, participating in the Windham recount as observers, and/or participating in the subsequent Ballot Law Commission appeal hearing. 
  • The remaining ten appointments will be chosen daily by random drawing at 4 pm for attendance at the Audit the following day. Alternates will also be selected. Observers will be notified by 5 pm and provided with information regarding protocols related to the Audit.
  • To apply for attendance, send an email to elections@sos.nh.gov and put “Windham Election Audit” in the subject line. The body of the email should include the applicant’s name, address, email, and phone number so the chosen members can be contacted. This process will be repeated for each day the Audit continues. Further information will be available Monday on the Secretary of State website www.sos.nh.gov.

Corey Lewandowski, a current Trump adviser who calls Windham home and told the Associated Press he talked to Trump about the state's races on Monday, said the large turnout at the board meeting showed that voters are “gravely concerned that the election system is not properly secured and that there is the potential at least for results that don’t align with what voters want.”

Lewandowski told the Associated Press the results in Windham suggested a statewide audit was necessary to check other vote-counting machines. “Unless a recount was done in these other communities, we don’t know if the machine tallies are accurate,” he said. “The larger concerns is this: if people don’t believe that there is integrity in the voting process, they won’t participate. That is the real issue.”

Sununu pushed back on Trump’s comments, telling the Associated Press New Hampshire is a model for how to do things right.

“A discrepancy of 300 votes out of over 800,000 cast does not define massive voter fraud by any means. We passed a bill, we’re going to do an audit in Windham. If anything, I think the fact that we focus on 300 votes goes to the integrity of our system.,” he told the Associated Press. “We have the best system in the country, a system where will do any audit even if it’s over a couple hundred votes. And it’s not for President Trump or Chris Sununu or Joe Biden, it’s about the citizens who cast the vote. That’s why we do the audit, to make sure every vote is counted.”

The audit will take place at the Edward Cross Training Center, 722 Riverwood Drive, Pembroke, NH. People can also livestream at www.doj.nh.gov.

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