The New Hampshire Town voting discrepancy was human error, not foul play

CLAIM: Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan received 1,100 votes in a New Hampshire town of just 700 people, suggesting fraud.

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The Columbia, New Hampshire city clerk confirmed that she had misspelled 106 votes as 1,106 votes, resulting in a temporary reporting error that has been corrected. The error did not change the results of the nationwide Senate race, which Hassan won by more than 56,000 votes.

THE FACTS: Social media users this week pointed to an apparent vote discrepancy in Columbia, New Hampshire, claiming Hassan received more votes in the midterm elections than there were residents in the small town.

“Another Democrat Miracle!” read one headline. “Maggie Hassan wins 1,100 votes from a town of under 700 people.”

“This requires an open revolt of a fake election on a broad front,” wrote one Twitter user alongside the caption.

Columbia reports a population of 659 people in the 2020 census.

However, the discrepancy was the result of a temporary reporting error by Marcia Parkhurst, Columbia’s city clerk, who explained the situation in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday.

“When I transferred the results from one copy to the copy I was going to send to the SOS, I seemed to write the ‘1’ twice,” Parkhurst wrote. “Of course, with only 309 votes cast, there can’t possibly be 1,106 votes for one person.”

Parkhurst said that when she became aware of the error Monday morning, she immediately called the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office. This office had already received calls raising the issue.

“Unfortunately, I’m human and I make mistakes, especially after a nearly 15-hour day,” Parkhurst wrote. “There was no ‘election fraud’ the way people talk.”

The Foreign Secretary’s office issued a statement of its own on Monday, stating that “the number originally entered was a simple typo”.

“The reported number far exceeded the number of ballots actually cast in the city,” the statement said. “The Secretary of State has confirmed to the Columbia City Clerk that Senator Hassan received only 106 votes on election night.”

election results published Tuesday on the foreign minister’s website showed the correct vote counts. Nationwide, Hassan defeated Republican challenger Don Bolduc by more than 56,000 votes.

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Associated Press writer Holly Ramer of Concord, NH contributed to this report.

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This is part of AP’s efforts to address widespread misinformation, including working with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content circulating online. Learn more about fact checking at AP.

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