Dear Honorable Committee Members:
My name is Carla Gericke, former Republican state Senate candidate in District 20. I live in Manchester, NH, am an author and attorney, and serve on several nonprofit boards, including Right-to-Know NH, a nonpartisan citizens’ coalition that works to improve government transparency, a crucial component to maintaining public trust in our institutions.
RTKNH supports this bill, and I believe another representative will be testifying on the organization’s behalf, so I am testifying today in my personal capacity as a voter, political candidate, and reformer. I will also submit this testimony in written form to the Committee via email afterwards, and ask that it form part of the permanent hearing record for the bill.
I ask you to SUPPORT HB480 in order to ensure the utmost transparency in the election process by allowing ballots to become part of the public record, subject to RSA 91-A, open to inspection by interested parties, and available to anyone who wishes to set their minds at ease.
Election integrity is a crucial part of any functioning government. More transparency leads to more accountability which in turn instills trust. Without transparency and accountability, Granite Staters will lose the last vestiges of trust in the system.
The NH Constitution says our government shall be “open, accessible, transparent, and responsive” to the people. In 1977, the legislature added a preamble:
“Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.”
HB480 increases accountability by increasing checks and balances.
In 2018, I was the Republican candidate for state Senate in District 20. During the primary, the Libertarian Party launched a write-in campaign, meaning, if I got 30 write-ins, I would appear as a fusion candidate as both the Republican and Libertarian candidate on the general election ballot.
District 20 has 6 wards, and I picked up twenty-something write-ins in five of the wards, but only 1 write-in in Ward 11 (my home ward, where I know many voters, and where I could easily have expected at least 30 write-ins). It was clear when the Ward 11 results were read that something was amiss. I filed for a recount, and yes, something was amiss. The moderators failed to record the write-ins correctly, and I did in fact, receive enough votes to qualify as a fusion candidate.
Why were the write-in votes recorded incorrectly? I’m sure it was, as everyone claims, a mistake, an oversight, something “went wrong,” and that the checks and balances put in place “worked” to “fix it.” But the question also begs to be asked: Why did the system fail in the first place? Why was the original tally wrongly recorded? How often does this happen? Where?
Everyone here is aware of the current investigation of the Windham Incident, where 300+ votes were found for EACH 3 Republican candidates during a recount. Much like my case, this raises more questions than it answers.
HB480 will help address these sorts of troubling scenarios by allowing follow-up audits BY ORDINARY CONCERNED CITIZENS who are registered New Hampshire voters to ensure we have the most unimpeachable and solid election process.
This would also help identify, say, if there is an isolated polling station where there are identifiable problems and repeat “offenders.” Part of the goal of the bill is to ensure the accuracy of the vote count and *evaluate the performance of election officials.* In other words, it is the check and balance on the check and balance, and given the strange occurrences we are now seeing with increasing regularity, the time to pass this bill is NOW.
Increasing transparency serves to increase accountability and trust. Let’s empower Granite Staters to be able to exercise their own audits to ensure the trust remains. Please support HB480 to increase election transparency, accountability, and trust.
Thank you for your time!
Secretary of State testifies IN OPPOSITION TO BILL!