Harri Hursti: Windham Ballot Fold Error Caused By Dept. of Motor Vehicles Machine

  • by:
  • Source: UncoverDC
  • 09/19/2023

On Monday, auditor Harri Hursti was interviewed by CNN, where he shared his surprise at the level of confusion being spread about the audit, as well as the "deliberate trolling" taking place. Hursti called it a malicious act that sends the wrong message. His interview was recorded by Windham audit observers and shared with UncoverDC.

When asked about the similarities in the audit in Windham and the one currently underway in Maricopa Co., Arizona, Hursti declared that voters in New Hampshire should have faith in their elections, claiming the audit in Windham is different because their investigation is about the isolated discrepancies in results in a state that "follows the rules." In somewhat of a contradiction, Hursti remarked that Americans should have confidence in the 2020 elections but also stated there is "a lot of work to do to improve the 2022 and 2024 elections." 

In standard practice, according to Hursti, a ballot has the Republican candidates listed side by side on one line, and the Democratic candidates listed side by side on the other line. However, according to Hursti, someone in Windham believed that would confuse voters, so they put the candidates on different lines, which permitted a fold line to run through one candidate. 

Discussing the ballot folds in Windham's election, Hursti indicated that due to a shortage of labor and increased demand for absentee ballots due to COVID-19, Windham borrowed a folding machine from the Department of Motor Vehicles to fold ballots. Hursti claimed the machine folded the ballots incorrectly, placing the crease right through Kristi St. Laurent's name, and they did not match up with the printer's score marks. Adding to the issue, Hursti said that over the past six months, ballots stacked away in boxes have flattened the paper, "causing the machine count and the human count to be closer." He said the fold bump is being misrepresented by the voting machines, creating a phantom vote, adding:

"They ran short of labor, they were behind schedule, and they tried to speed up the process by borrowing a folding machine from the Department of Motor Vehicles. Unknown to all of us before we started the audit, the fold went through St. Laurent's name."

Maintaining there were no fraudulent activities, Hursti summarized Windham's absentee ballot dilemma as the perfect storm of coincidences—incorrect folding by the Dept. of Motor Vehicle's machine, one candidate in the middle of the fold, and the user interface. The good thing, he remarked, is "we now know the problem, and it can easily be fixed in the future." Hursti added that there is "no evidence of a malicious act. [It is a] training and human error, instructional error." He indicated it is doubtful any other races in New Hampshire are affected because every county has different ballots, and if there were widespread fraud in the state, "it would have come out."

Hursti was again questioned by local election integrity advocates over the live stream going offline on one of the earliest nights of the audit. Explaining a miscommunication between the Attorney General (AG) and the live stream company, Hursti said the state couldn't secure a single live stream provider, with the first one equipped to supply just twelve hours of coverage. He continued, saying the company was unaware the coverage was supposed to be 24 hours a day instead of only while there was activity in the audit room. Upon learning the live stream was down, attempts to reset it remotely were unsuccessful. Hursti maintained the AG arrived at the building after the live stream was restored, not before or during, and asserted the state trooper could confirm there was no malicious activity in the room while the feed was offline. The live stream can be seen here.

Despite two of Windham's four machines being in agreement and one being exceptionally off, Hursti reiterated there is no reason for concern in the rest of New Hampshire. Marilyn Todd of NH Voter Integrity Group disagrees, summarizing that out of the 243 towns in NH, 137 of them use the same Diebold ES2000 Model A voting machines as Windham. Hence, with over 200 of these machines in use across the state, Todd insists it is unreasonable to assume that Windham is the only town with a problem, as Hursti states. Additionally, Todd does not believe the discrepancies lie just in the paper folds, stating:

"If we allow them into manipulating us into thinking this is just the paper, we are not going to have a say in these machines. The paper folds are an excuse to make the rest of New Hampshire feel comfortable."

On Tuesday, the auditors will conduct a forensic analysis of the voting machines, one of which had more difficulties with folded ballots than the others. Each memory card will need 90 minutes to read. With no explanation provided, details emerged late Monday that auditor Phillip Stark would not be present for the remainder of the audit, which leaves the inspection under the command of Harri Hursti and Mark Lindeman.

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