LACONIA — Although Justice Timothy Vaughan of Grafton County Superior Court ruled that the Belknap County Convention violated the state's "Right-to-Know" law by electing its officers in November 2012 by secret ballot, Tom Tardif and Dave Gammon, who brought the suit, are seeking punishment as well as vindication. Last week the pair, representing themselves, asked the court to reconsider its decision not to impose one of several penalties authorized by the law.
Vaughan agreed that the convention "directly violated" RSA 91-A:2, II, which prescribes that all meetings of a public body shall be open to the public and that "no vote while in open session may be taken by secret ballot." But, he found that the convention "realized their error" and held a second election, which with only one exception mirrored the outcome of the first and held that to strike the election and order another "would be an exercise in futility and a further waste of resources". Likewise,the justice found no evidence that the convention acted in bad faith and declined to impose civil penalties or order that its members undergo remedial training in the law.
In their motion for reconsideration, Tardif and Gammon remind the court that in 2007 the Belknap County Convention elected Sheriff Craig Wiggin by secret ballot, prompting a legal challenge that was decided against the convention by the New Hampshire Supreme Court. At the same time, they claim that because the original election was conducted contrary to law, the convention was not properly organized, casting doubt on the legitimacy of its subsequent actions. They ask the court to require "any elected officer, employee or other administrative of Belknap County" to undergo remedial training in the interpretation and application of the "Right-to-Know" law at the county's expense. They also asked the court to order that secret ballots cast in the original election be disclosed to the public.