By Brad Friedman, from on the road (again)...
A representative of Republican Albert Howard's New Hampshire hand count called this morning to say that, without giving any specific details, the NH SoS office informed them today that "We're gonna have to stop the recount for a couple of days" next week. No reason, other than "legislative business" was given.
A few minutes ago, Howard, who had patiently waited for nearly two weeks while NH SoS Bill Gardner began the counting for the Democratic request, claiming they couldn't count the two different primaries at one time (though it seems they couldn't even count one primary at the same time!), sent us the following note, objecting to the delay in counting. The letter was hand delivered to Gardner moments ago...
Secretary of State
State of New Hampshire
Dept. of State
107 N. Main St. Rm 204
Concord, NH 03301
Dear Mr. Gardner:
This letter is being prepared for delivery to you following today’s lunch break.
Earlier today, Assistant Secretary of State David Scanlan asked me for my consent to a recess in the recount, the recess to span Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
This is to inform you that I strenuously object to any suspension of the recount process.
I can think of no more important business for the State than the completion of the recount process.
The nation is in the early stages of the 2008 Presidential electoral process. The performance of the machines used in New Hampshire is of vital importance. The sooner the results are known and available to the People and to other units of government charged with conducting Primaries and General Elections, the better for the nation.
In addition, with the sudden start of the recount process, I and the observers have made costly arrangements for transportation, housing and personal time away from their places of employment that cannot be changed without personal harm.
Before any decision is made to suspend the recount over my objection I am respectfully requesting that you cite your legal authority to suspend the recount over my objections and under the current facts and circumstances; it was bad enough that the recount was not started on the date explicitly required by New Hampshire law.
Very truly yours,
Albert B. Howard
Howard had requested the hand count after noting that results reported by C-SPAN on Election Night allegedly showed him as having many more votes than were finally reported in the official results after the polls closed. He gave a check for $57,600, raised by supporters, to the SoS on January 16th. His hand count finally began yesterday, after Kucinich's stopped when the funds submitted so far had apparently been spent.
Yesterday, we pointed to Gardner's apparent lie to the media, claiming that Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich was "satisfied at the integrity of the recount" despite a letter from Kucinich to Gardner the day before (posted exclusively by The BRAD BLOG here), clearly revealing Kucinich to be anything but "satisfied," and, in fact, having requested "a complete and accurate recount of all ballots" to be carried out at state expense, given the "significant variances" discovered so far during the counting of just one NH county.
We had left a message with the SoS office seeking comment and/or clarification for Gardner's statement to the media. He has yet to return our call.
UPDATE 1/26/08, 1:35am PT: We've been on the road, and in a media conference all day, so haven't been able to follow up ourselves, but an emailer writes to tell us, "the NH SOS told Albert Howard that there would be NO recess in the counting of ballots next week".
Bev Harris reports in comments (along with additional thoughts on the dynamics of SoS Gardner and Dept. SoS David Scanlan) that she has received a similar report from someone else on the ground in NH, that the count will proceed without hold up. Though the reasons for the initially attempted halt remain a mystery for now.
What's clear is that standing up, and pushing back loudly and publicly by Howard has made a difference. If Democrats did the same, we'd probably not be in this fine mess in the first place...