NH Secretary of State reports on efforts to strengthen voter confidence

The Special Committee on Voter Confidence listens to Secretary of State David Scanlan’s progress report.

The Special Committee on Voter Confidence listens to Secretary of State David Scanlan’s progress report. By Sofie Buckminster—Monitor staff

By SOFIE BUCKMINSTER

Monitor staff

Published: 06-10-2024 5:03 PM

Secretary of State David Scanlan outlined a number of new campaigns aimed at promoting trust in election officials and informing voters, including a new pocket voter guide, and tent cards dispersed in local offices and diners that read, “Local election officials are your trusted source of election information.”

On Monday, Scanlan met with the Special Committee on Voter Confidence, which was formed in December 2022, to report on progress based on the group’s recommendations. 

“I’m really, really pleased with where the whole department is and the way we’re moving forward,” Scanlan said.

The committee collected input from hundreds of Granite Staters in an effort to assess voter concerns and confidence. They reported back several recommendations to Scanlan, including more accessible information for both election workers and voters and better transparency of the ballot-counting process. 

Their findings produced two key takeaways: that most New Hampshire voters have confidence in the election process, and that election confidence is lower than in the past – but still high.

In response to the call for increased access to information, Scanlan organized nearly 50 training events for election workers across the state. These sessions are also increasingly being posted online.

On the ballot-counting front, Scanlan is initiating a shift towards machine technology. In late 2023, two ballot-counting models were conditionally approved for use by the Ballot Law Commission. Four devices were piloted in nine different municipalities for state and local elections. 

To boost confidence in the machines, the Secretary of State’s office has been rigorously auditing the ballot counts they produce and hosting demonstration sessions, officials and residents alike to understand how they work. All four devices piloted were deemed successful. The device manufactured by VotingWorks, which uses open-source software code to boost transparency even more, was approved and used in 2024 town elections.

Article continues after...

Yesterday's Most Read Articles

Opinion: A look at the Elderly Property Tax Exemption
In Rockford Illinois – a blueprint for reducing homelessness, 1,050 miles from Concord
Concord police investigating Thursday night fight at popular swimming spot
Rockhounds rejoice: Ruggles Mine in NH to reopen
Concord Ethics Board to weigh merits of complaints against two city councilors
‘It’s kind of embarrassing’: Performing arts leaders ask district to expand CHS auditorium as part of middle school project

Though it’s unlikely that more devices will be rolled out by the general election this fall, Scanlan anticipates them beginning to play a larger role in the coming years.

“The bottom line is, it’s going to be a slow transition through this election cycle, but I would expect in 2026 we’re going to get a lot of new devices,” he said.

Many committee members were pleased to see their recommendations being taken seriously. “When we were meeting, I always worried that we were going to create something that was going to be put on the shelf,” member Doug Teschner said. “So the fact that you’re following up on these is important, and appreciated.”

Some weren’t so satisfied. 

“We’re missing a big elephant in the room, and that’s those that are spreading misinformation and disinformation that there’s no confidence in the process,” said committee member Olivia Zink. “I think many people trust their own election official, but then say things like, ‘Elections are stolen.’”

“It’s important that we continue to monitor that mis- and disinformation,” she said

Ultimately, Scanlan is optimistic about the rate of change. His office launched a brand new voter registration database that went online just last month. 

“We have made a lot of progress,” he said. “We have done a lot.”

Sofie Buckminster can be reached at sbuckminster@cmonitor.com.