Why counting each vote matters

To the editor:

“People need to believe their vote counts. Otherwise, why bother?” one conscientious town clerk has told me.

Exactly. Our NH Constitution says it is voters’ rights and moderators’ duty to make sure all votes are counted in public and reported accurately.

But, many state and local election officials have long ignored our highest state law. They haven’t questioned the legality or wisdom of a private corporation taking over this essential public function. The public still pays for elections that are no longer accountable to us.

Moderators no longer oversee the counting of more than 85 percent of New Hampshire votes. A private corporation programs computers to tabulate our votes in secret. How could that have happened without the people giving consent through a constitutional amendment?

Most election officials don’t want to talk about that.

Eva Waskell, long-time election watcher, has traced the evolution of (and unheeded warnings about) privatized elections since the 1960s. Major factors include: an uninformed public intentionally kept in the dark, politics, and money’s influence. She proposes the direction to a solution — more citizen involvement at the local level.

Our trust in elections must be earned if we are to believe our votes count and our government is legitimate. The current election system is too removed from voters’ interests and constitutional requirements, too deeply entrenched in self-preservation to reform itself.

Locally, we’re taking a step toward making sure election results are accurate by beginning this conversation. We want our interest (a voice in our government and election results we know we can trust) to become the election system’s priority.

In Jaffrey, contact me or join Jaffrey-voices on Google Groups. In Brookline/Mason, contact Betty Hall.

Deborah Sumner


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