Albert Howard Hand Delivers Letter to SoS Gardner, Reiterates Demand For Reconciliation of All Uncast Ballots
ALSO: Diebold Machine Errors Reported in 21 Towns, Democrat John Conyers Calls Howard, Expresses Support...
By Brad Friedman on 2/1/2008, 2:30pm PT  

New Hampshire's Republican Presidential Primary candidate Albert Howard has delivered a letter to Secretary of State Bill Gardner, demanding that "all ballots that have been returning from the towns and cities, including, but not necessarily limited to, the unused/uncast ballots and the 'spoiled' ballots," be counted as part of the ongoing Election Contest in the Granite State. Howard filed for the contest, where ballots are being counted again today in Concord, following concerns about reported results from the Diebold optical-scan machines used during the state's January 8th Primary.

The BRAD BLOG has also learned that problems with Diebold machines were reported in 21 different towns during the primary, according to Howard, who says he has finally received some answers to public records requests filed with the state weeks ago, asking for details of problems with the machines that occurred on Election Day.

We just spoke with Howard, who explained that counting conditions in Concord continue to be "a mess," prompting his latest demands, which echoed earlier ones that remain unmet by SoS Gardner.

The Republican Howard also told us that he'd been contacted recently by the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, John Conyers, who called him personally to discuss concerns about what was going on in the wake of questions surrounding the New Hampshire Primary Election results...

Describing the reasoning behind his latest request to count the unvoted ballots along with the voted ballots, Howard told The BRAD BLOG this afternoon that his observers "are noticing that these uncast ballots are inside the ballot boxes with the ballots that are being counted on the table."

"The Democratic ballots are mixed in with the Republican ballots. We're having to separate them. It's a real mess," he said, adding that counters are being forced to sit and wait for hours as they continue to wait for ballots to be delivered from towns where the election was held almost four full weeks ago.

"The observers are sitting there sometimes for two hours waiting to count, and I'm having to pay these people," Howard, who raised nearly $60,000 to pay for the hand count, told us. "We've got so many counters, they're blowing through [the ballots] at super speed. The people who are picking up the ballots are going out, and the counters are having to wait, and it's just not right."

Howard had originally requested that unvoted and spoiled ballots be made available for counting, in order to allow proper reconciliation during the hand count, when he first filed his Contest (complete letter, listing all of Albert's original demands posted at the end of our 1/15/08 article). Similarly, Democratic contestant Dennis Kucinich's campaign, which also requested a hand count, had demanded that unvoted ballots be included in that count, as well. Gardner refused to comply with the demand, citing state law which, he said, requires only the counting of ballots actually "cast" in the election.

Howard says the law allows for "all ballots" to be counted.

In his short, hand-delivered letter, posted in full at the end of this article, Howard also demands that Gardner "provide the number of ballots that were printed and the number of ballots that were delivered to each town and city." Presumably, again, so that there can be appropriate reconciliation for the ballots being counted, and to ensure that blank, unvoted ballots have not been used to alter results of the ballots currently being hand counted.

Over the last several weeks, The BRAD BLOG has reported on a number of outrageous "chain of custody" concerns revealed during the hand count of ballots in New Hampshire, where 80% of the state's votes had been tabulated --- without human verification or double-check of any of the paper ballots used --- by the same Diebold optical-scan machines shown to be easily hackable in HBO's 2006 documentary, Hacking Democracy.

Concerns over lax chain of custody have emerged since counting began in the state capitol. Election Integrity experts on location in New Hampshire have detailed such concerns, which include ballots delivered to the counting room in Concord in alarming condition, in unsealed and opened boxes (see photo essay here); "security seals" which are shown to be as easily removed as Post-It notes (see video here); and ballots left out overnight, instead of stored in the state's ballot vault during the hand count of Democratic ballots.

Gardner has previously been unable to account for the reason that ballots were left unattended outside of the vault, and has admitted that he has no idea what's become of the sensitive Diebold memory cards used to program and store vote counts on the optical-scanners. That, despite federal law requiring such election-related media be securely retained for 22 months following an election.

The Democratic hand count was suspended last week, after counting in just two of New Hampshire's counties found mistallies for many candidates across many voting wards. Variances from the initial Diebold count were discovered during the hand count to be as high as 4% to 10% in several wards --- while the general error rate was found to be approximately 1% across all areas counted during the Kucinich's Democratic hand count.

Similar miscounts have been revealed so far during the Republican hand count, including notable mistallies in the town of Stratham. "We're noticing discrepancies and irregularities where all of a sudden you've got clusters of Romneys and McCains where the numbers are very high. Incidents where Obama was crossed out twice, etc.," says Howard. "We're trying to figure out what's going on here."

Howard, one of several little-known Republican candidates on the primary ballot, filed for the hand count, he claims, after reports on C-SPAN on Election Night showed him receiving more than 100 votes, only to find he was awarded just 44 votes after the official state-reported, largely machine-tabulated results were released.

The Michigan Republican has also been contacted by Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, who, Howard says, was concerned about reports he'd read at The BRAD BLOG in regard to the hand counts.

"Conyers called me, said he's very interested in this, and said that he's going to get back to me. He's very aware of what's going on," Howard explained.

Howard went on to say that every time a question comes up about procedures for the hand count, Secretary of State "Gardner becomes very nervous and asks if I want to stop the recount."

"I keep telling him, 'No, I don't want to stop the recount, I want you to do the count I paid for!'" says Howard.

Last week, as The BRAD BLOG reported, Asst. Sec. of State David Scanlan informed Howard that the count would be recessed for two days this week. Howard objected, and the count continued as scheduled.

"They never explained why they wanted to have a recess on this," Howard told us today.

Please see BRAD BLOG's index of notable (and nearly-exclusive) New Hampshire coverage, for more.

The letter, delivered today by Republican Albert Howard to NH Secretary of State William Gardner, again reiterating his demand that all unvoted ballots to be included in the hand count, follows in full below…

February 1, 2008

Mr. William Gardner
Secretary of State
State of New Hampshire
Dept. of State
107 N. Main St. Rm 204
Concord, NH 03301


Dear Mr. Gardner:

Under the authority of New Hampshire’s Election Law or, if necessary, New Hampshire’s Right to Know Law, I respectfully request the recount immediately begin to include a count of the all ballots that have been returned from the towns and cities, including, but not necessarily limited to, the unused/uncast ballots and the “spoiled” ballots.

In addition, please provide the number of ballots that were printed and the number of ballots that were delivered to each town and city.

Time is of the essence, your immediate attention to this matter is essential.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Very truly yours,

Albert B. Howard