Election integrity, via watermark paper, magnetic ink, proof of residency coming to New Hampshire

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Watermark paper, magnetic ink, a greater segregation of duties and increased proof of residency protocols are the focus of a newly introduced election security bill introduced into the New Hampshire General Assembly.

By Dave Fidlin | The Center Square

The House Election Law Committee on Tuesday held a hearing on House Bill 482, which proposes using ballots with embedded security features, in addition to new chain of custody procedures and other methods aimed at tracing where ballots are routed across the state.

The bill also requires residents voting absentee provide a photocopied proof of identity and residency with a submitted ballot.

State Rep. Sandra Panek, R-Hillsborough, is the sponsor of the bill. While providing testimony at Tuesday’s hearing, Panek said she drafted it in response to ongoing concerns about election integrity processes.

“This is a citizenwide issue, irrespective of party,” Panek said. “We should be best in class with our election practices. This bill that we are bringing forward is to strengthen our practices.”

There were other speakers that offered testimony in support of HB482 at Tuesday’s hearing. Brenda Towne, who is part of a grassroots organization known as the New Hampshire Voter Integrity Group, is among the proponents.

“This is strictly about business controls,” Towne said in support of heightened security measures. “It’s all about common sense. It’s about putting our votes into the same category as cash and the investments we put in the bank.”

But Secretary of State David Scanlan, a first-year Republican in the office, said a comparison of state government — particularly under the lens of election processes — and the business world is not appropriate since there is autonomy between his agency and municipalities across the state.

“The system is not run like a business,” Scanlan said. “I have no authority over the local election officials, other than to help train them and to teach them uniform standards.”

Scanlan said he was receptive to exploring the use of magnetic ink and watermark paper as a safeguard against counterfeit ballots, but took aim at other provisions within the bill, including increased use of resources outside his purview.

“I don’t want to farm stuff out to third-party vendors to do the job that I’ve been charged to do,” Scanlan said. “If they fail, I fail. I want to make sure that I am responsible for every step that is in the election.”

A fiscal note attached to HB482 does not include any proposed allocation of funding for the outlined changes, meaning municipalities could carry the weight of the new mandates, if implemented.

Natch Greyes, government affairs counsel with the New Hampshire Municipal Association, said the lack of appropriations from the state would weigh on communities’ balance sheets and could result in tax increases to carry out the requirements.

“We’re concerned about that additional cost.” Greyes said in his testimony to the committee.

HB482 remains in the House Election Law Committee and is due out with a potential recommendation by Feb. 16.

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One thought on “Election integrity, via watermark paper, magnetic ink, proof of residency coming to New Hampshire

  1. No such thing as voter integrity in the commie state of VT. however. It’s all keep the theft alive…

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