Last night was the city of Nashua’s local elections. Most winners were announced after votes were tallied except in one area, the school board. The school board was a bit of a contentious race because there were five seats and five candidates running but they weren’t union-backed candidates. The unions waged a write-in campaign. After the polls closed all the votes were tallied, including the write-in votes but something happened that does not appear to follow New Hampshire’s election law.
The moderator in Ward 5 didn’t want to count all the final write-in total votes by hand and didn’t have a calculator so rather than get a calculator, she boxed up all the ballots. There’s just one problem with that, according to New Hampshire election laws, the counts must not be postponed and the results must be announced to the public.
The laws that apply are as follows:
659:63 Counting to be Public. The counting of votes shall be public and conducted within the guardrail and shall not be adjourned nor postponed until it shall have been completed. No ballot shall be placed within 4 feet of the guardrail during the counting of votes.
And for the final count:
659:70 Final Counting; Result. The final count of all votes on all ballots cast at the central and additional polling places, if any, shall be combined and the moderator shall announce the final count for each office.
It appears these laws were not followed. These laws are seem quite clear. Not only do the counts need to be conducted in front of the public but the final counts need to be announced. They cannot wrap it up and wait until the next day. It doesn’t work that way.
Anything can happen between the ward polling place and city hall. That’s why the public is typically present during the counts and that’s why the counts are announced. The counts were announced for every other race at each ward other than for the write-ins. As of this morning, the counts still have not been verified.
It’s unclear if there was a directive from the city clerk to not bother counting the write-ins for a final count by ward. According to the Nashua Telegraph there was a total number of write-in votes but the split on the final tally was not announced. Regardless of the outcome, election results are supposed to take place in a very public manner. Voters count on the integrity of the election board and workers to make this happen. It looks like Nashua may have some explaining to do.