By Brad Friedman from Sacramento...
Election Integrity experts from around the country have been converging on the Granite State over the last several days, in preparation for "historic" state-wide hand counts of New Hampshire's Primary Election ballots, The BRAD BLOG has learned. Counts of votes on both the Democratic and Republican sides will begin in earnest this Wednesday, as long as the two contesting candidates deliver certified checks by 3pm on Tuesday, in amounts determined on Monday by Secretary of State William M. Gardner.
The battle for transparency and accountability on the ground, where some 80% of the state's ballots were tallied only by error-prone, hackable Diebold optical-scan voting machines, without human audit or spot-checking of any kind, in last week's first-in-the-nation Primary, is already growing heated on both sides of the aisle, and even inside the statehouse as of Monday.
While representatives from each of the contestants have reportedly been working together on several aspects of the two separate counts --- each claiming to have requested the hand-counts in order to help answer questions about anomalous reported results --- what has become immediately clear, during our interviews with several members involved in the challenges as well as Election Integrity advocates now in New Hampshire and elsewhere, is that these election challenges likely may not mirror the partial recount in 2004, held at the request of then-Presidential candidate Ralph Nader.
The BRAD BLOG has obtained the two-page request for a detailed list of ballot and voting machine-related public documents and records submitted on Monday to Gardner by the previously obscure Republican candidate Albert Howard. Howard's request makes clear that the battle for integrity and transparency in post-election challenges may have finally caught up with the technical sea-changes in voting equipment that have overtaken the American election system over the last several years.
Due to extraordinary complexities in the ever more complicated computer systems, scanners, tabulators, record sets, databases, and proprietary programming that have now been employed by election administrators across the country, the once-simple task of examining and recounting paper ballots --- where they still exist, as they do in New Hampshire --- has grown exponentially more technical and confusing.
Early word on the ground in New Hampshire's capital city of Concord, along with concerns from candidates, surrogates, and election experts alike, suggests that these "recounts" could be like no other in the history of the country...