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Derry officials plan for election in wake of claims that town moderator violated election law

By HUNTER McGEE
Union Leader Correspondent

October 22. 2016 12:09AM
Mary Till 

DERRY — Following the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s assertion that Town Moderator Mary Till violated state election law during the primary, town officials met Friday to discuss how to move ahead to next month’s general election.

According to N.H. Secretary of State William Gardner and state Attorney General Joseph Foster, Till violated state election law during the Sept. 13 primary.

After the primary, a complaint was lodged against Till, a Democrat who is also running for a state representative seat, by Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien, a state representative who lost her bid for re-election. In her complaint, Prudhomme-O’Brien said the results of the primary election should be overturned because Till was running for office at the same time that she was moderating the election results.

“The tabulation of votes and counting of ballots was overseen by a disqualified public official,” wrote Prudhomme-O’Brien, a Republican.

As a consequence, an election monitor will be appointed by the state to oversee the ballot counting process and Till’s duties as moderator during next month’s general election, Gardner and Foster wrote in a Thursday letter to Till.

One of the violations cited by Gardner was that Till conducted a hand recount of an AccuVote machine.

Other violations cited involved failure to identify a central polling place; how the ballots were delivered; and the handling of ballots.

Till disagrees with Gardner on all the alleged violations. She said she hasn’t determined yet how she will respond to the letter as she is busy trying to prepare for the Nov. 8 election.

Till can challenge them before the Ballot Law Commission, according to officials.

In the meeting Friday, Till and local officials, including acting Town Administrator Stephen Daly, discussed how to proceed with the Nov. 8 general election.

“We are formulating a plan for how to address the election but we won’t have that firmed up until probably Wednesday of next week,” Daly said.

Also at the meeting were Council Chairman Brian Chirichiello and Town Clerk Daniel Healey.

Officials are striving to ensure that next month’s election is “above reproach,” and working “to follow the direction provided by the secretary of state,” Daly said.

As for Till’s alleged violations of state election law, Daly said: “That’s not something we would deal with as the town government; that’s a matter between the secretary of state, the attorney general and the moderator. As an elected official she stands on her own in that respect.”


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