The first review of the forensic audit of May 17-Pembroke-Wyndham election results generated a different total number of votes than was reported shortly after the November 3 election.
The four Republican candidates in Wyndham’s state legislature each received about 220 more votes through automatic ballot counting than reported on election day.
Meanwhile, top-finish Democrat Christie St. Laurent received about 125 fewer votes from the audit than was announced on November 3.
The audit of the four AccuVote machines used to count ballots at Wyndham ended over the weekend.
Volunteers began manually recounting all ballots cast in the race for state legislatures, governors, and US senators on Monday.
Mark Lindeman, one of the three audit teams, urged volunteers to carefully examine the creases in the ballot because the voting machine improperly counted some of the ballots.
“In some cases, the creases are interpreted by the scanner as a valid vote,” Lindemann said. “It’s something we especially want to encourage you to look for at the table.”
Harri Husti, another member of the audit team, said it could take a week or more to complete the hand recount.
Hearsty said it wouldn’t be surprising if the audit came up with an automated machine or a different total number of votes than was found after the November hand recount.
The state legislature and Governor Chris Sununu ordered an audit after a major discrepancy between the machine-counted votes and the hand-counted votes on November 12.
On election day, Republican Julius Soti finished fourth, surpassing Saint Laurent by 24 votes, the last of the four state legislators. However, Soti’s win increased to 420 votes after recounting the hands.
By averaging the votes cast from the four machines after the audit, Soti outperformed Saint Laurent by 377, 4,706 to 4,329 votes.
Curiously, there was much less difference between election night returns and machine audit review returns in either the governor’s election or the US Senator.
Governor Sununu’s total votes fluctuated by less than 20 votes in audited returns, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.) voted less than 40 votes.
Hearsty said last week that discrepancies are likely to be multiple factors.
The ballot-counting machines used in about 85% of the cities and towns of Wyndham and New Hampshire are one of the oldest models in circulation, with memory chips dating back to 1981, Hursti said.
According to Hearsty, the machine is outdated, but it’s harder to hack than the latest ballot-counting machines because the counting paper ballots provide backup.
On Monday, a team of five volunteers at each table examined the ballot and reported on the interpretation of the candidate’s vote.
All audit procedures are livestreamed on the web.
The audit must be completed by May 27th.