A statistics professor has been named as the third and final member of a panel facing a May 27 deadline to audit the November 2020 state representative election in Windham.
“We will do our work in such a way that nobody will have to trust any of us,” Philip Stark of the University of California, Berkeley, said Wednesday. “They can look at what was done, rather than who did it.”
A hand recount about three weeks after election night determined that the four Windham Republicans running for House seats each received about 300 more votes than were reported from automatic AccuVote counting machines. Gov. Chris Sununu last month signed the legislation that mandates the forensic audit.
Stark was chosen by the two other members of the audit team — computer scientist Harri Hursti of Nordic Innovation Labs and Mark Lindeman of election technology policy group Verified Voting. All three have participated in election audits around the country, going back more than a decade.
The attorney general and secretary of state chose Hursti together, and Windham’s Board of Selectman picked Lindeman. Hursti and Lindeman chose Stark to round out their team’s areas of expertise.
Windham’s choice for the audit team has drawn attention from national conservative media personalities, including former Trump advisor Steve Bannon. On Monday night, about 500 people attended a selectmen’s meeting in Windham to protest the board’s 3-1 vote for Lindeman last month.
Selectman Bruce Breton, who voted against choosing Lindeman, said he is still skeptical.
“I’m still a little taken aback by the choice,” said Breton, who questioned Lindeman’s credentials based in part on a letter Lindeman signed questioning the need for a third audit of the presidential vote in Maricopa County, Arizona.
Critics have pointed to the Windham vote discrepancy as evidence to back up claims that the presidential election was tainted by inaccurate automated vote tallying.
Stark said Wednesday he wants the audit process to be transparent, so that anyone watching will be able to see what is happening and draw their own conclusions about the fairness of the process.
The audit team will work in the New Hampshire National Guard’s Edward Cross Training Center in Pembroke, the state’s attorney general and secretary of state announced Wednesday.
There will be limited space in the facility for observers and the media, but the proceedings will be livestreamed online at doj.nh.gov.
The law outlining the parameters of the audit specifies that the process be livestreamed for anyone to see. Lindeman said Wednesday that he envisioned multiple concurrent streams so that observers can see close-up what people are doing.
Voters in Windham deserve to know why there was a gulf between the results reported election night and the recount results, Lindeman said.
“Part of the goal here is to create a process so transparent, so observable, that no one has to believe Mark Lindeman,” Lindeman said. “This is about vindicating people’s votes.”
Lindeman said the team is still working on some particulars, but he outlined the process broadly.
“We know for sure we’re going to be hand-counting at least three of the contests,” Lindeman said. All the ballots will be scanned through all four scanners used in the election.
Hursti, the technical lead, will examine the voting machines’ memory cards. Lindeman’s focus will be on the hand count, he said.
Lindeman said it is too early to speculate about what might have happened — and he hopes the public will also wait to draw conclusions until all the evidence is in.
“I would ask anyone who wants to form an opinion on this audit not to trust me,” Lindeman said, “but to observe what actually happens, and then form their opinions based on the evidence.”
Josie Albertson-Grove, The New Hampshire Union Leader, Manchester