City Clerk Explains Late NH Primary Results

Kelli Barnaby said she chose to follow the NH Secretary of State's rules to only report official NH Primary results as many other communities reported unofficial results on election night.

Portsmouth was one of the few communities in the state to report its NH Primary election results on Wednesday because the city chose to go by the book.

Portsmouth City Clerk Kelli Barnaby explained Wednesday afternoon the city didn't release its election results until 11 a.m. because the required forms that accompany official NH Primary results were not completed until that time.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan said the state wants its 6,000 election officials to follow the rules as much as possible. During the trainings held before the NH Primary, Scanlan said the Secretary of State's office tells communities to post the results outside of the polling place before they leave a given building for the night, if possible.

Scanlan said that given the intense scrutiny and media frenzy surrounding NH Primary night, some communities may feel pressured to release their election results faster than others. But based on everything he has seen, most communities followed all of the appropriate procedures and released their election results properly.

Those communities that did not do it properly will hear from the Secretary of State's office, he said. Depending on the infraction, Scanlan said the state "can pursue certain remedies," but he would not give specifics. The one thing the Secretary of State's office doesn't want to see if communities releasing election night results before they should and have errors result.

As frustrating as it may have been for some Portsmouth residents who wanted to know sooner how their city voted in the NH Primary, Scanlan said a community needs to take as much time as it needs to make sure it is releasing accurate results.

Barnaby explained that some city wards had a more difficult time than others completing the required forms. She said she and other members of the City Clerk's staff attended a training in Concord the week before the NH Primary and were told the Secretary of State's office didn't want any communities to release unofficial results.

Barnaby said many communities chose to do just that on election, but she felt it was best to follow the rules set forth by the state agency.

Barnaby said she and her staff remained at City Hall on Wednesday until 2 a.m. before they made the decision to wait until later on Wednesday morning to release the official Portsmouth NH Primary results.

If other cities and towns had chosen to follow the same protocols requested by the Secretary of State's office, Barnaby believes many of them would not have been about to release official results until Wednesday.


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