By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — City Clerk Mary Reynolds, together with her counterpart Matt Norman in Manchester, has been served with a Right-to-Know request by the New Hampshire Secretary of State arising from her part in a squabble over a proposal to use electronic poll books in Manchester, Hooksett and Durham in the primary and general elections.
In June, then state Sen. David Boutin, a Republican from Hooksett filed legislation to use the electronic poll books in the three precincts and immediately met with opposition from Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who said there was too little time to test the system and align it with the state's election laws. Although the bill carried the Senate, it failed in the House of Representatives.
Reynolds said Tuesday that the issue concerns her role as an officer of the New Hampshire City & Town Clerks Association, who openly supported the proposal, and does not bear on either her position as city clerk or the performance of her office. "It has nothing to do with Laconia," she said, "but I was one of those who contacted senators and representatives in support of the proposal." She explained that electronic poll books enable voters to swipe their driver's licenses at the polling station and if their name, address and age matches the information on the checklist they are given a ballot. She said the system has nothing to do with the ballots themselves.
The Right-to-Know request applies to all internal and external communications between the the city clerks and their staffs relaying to electronic poll books, including communications with vendors, particularly LHS Associates of Salem, New Hampshire and KNWINK of St. Louis, Missouri, lobbying groups, like the New Hampshire Municipal Association, League of Women Voters and America Votes, and state legislators during the 18 months between June 2015 and November 2016.
Tom Clark, the city solicitor in Manchester, asked the Secretary of State to narrow the scope of the request, but received no response. "We will comply with the request," Reynolds said, "but, it will take some time, maybe as long as six months. She said that emails sent between July 1, 2015, and January 31, 2016, have been archived, which could make them more difficult to search.
The New Hampshire Sunday News reported Normand describing the Secretary of State's request as "a provocative maneuver" and Clark saying that Manchester taxpayers should be spared the cost of "a petty disagreement over alternative methods to modernize the election process in New Hampshire or chill future attempts to do so."
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