By Paul Conyer
The Sandown Board of Selectmen met for its July 11 meeting to discuss several longstanding issues, notable a petition related to a proposed ban on voting machines for local, state, and federal elections in Sandown.
Chairman, Jonathan Goldman, already denied an earlier petition requesting a special election on the issue, calling it inappropriate and “not correct” at the June 6 Selectmen meeting. worries about discrepancies caused by voting machines have been a problem since an audit uncovered incorrect counts in Windham more than a year ago.
Town Moderator, Kevin Major, previously addressed the problem, assuring everyone that the counting errors in Windham were unique to Windham, with no issue in Sandown.
The Board of Selectmen nonetheless received a new petition on June 26, requesting a more direct ban on voting machines. 51 people signed the petition to reconsider a ban on all voting machines, and several chose to attend the meeting.
Goldman agreed to a special hearing for public discussion. Advice from the town attorney regarding the last petition on the issue led him to emphasize that the Board of Selectmen was only granting a “hearing for advisory purposes.” Goldman noted that public sessions related to these petitions have typically been attended primarily by those looking to ban voting machines. Deliberation over the reluctance to either hold an immediate vote on the issue or to approve a special election drew criticism from petition supporters.
“It’s the people in charge, not you!” Resident and petition signer, Alan David, said, frustrated at the lack of a special election on the voting machine issue.
“A lot of Sandown residents are mad with the election process” added Linda Brown, another resident in attendance. Brown worried that her vote did not count when done through a voting machine. She also counted herself as one of the 51 voters who signed the initial petition and like David, expressed frustration over the lack of immediate action.
Hand counting all ballots every election will almost certainly cost more compared to the machines the town used in 2020. Additional costs will also be associated with organizing a special election for one issue.
“I’m not going to vote to spend $10,000 of the taxpayer’s money for 51 people” stated Vice Chairman Tom Tombarell.
Exactly how much a special election will cost taxpayers is unclear, depending on several different factors. Tombarell wanted the Town Moderator to weigh in on the financial issue before engaging in further discussion. A motion by the Board of Selectmen to deny the petition was narrowly rejected. Both Tombarell and Goldman expressed a desire to continue the discussion on August 22, where Major will be in attendance to get a better idea about what the proposal for a voting machine ban could mean for the town. The Board hopes to solve the debate over voting machines at the August meeting.