New Hampshire town’s vote oddity was human error, not fraud
CLAIM: Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan received 1,100 votes in a New Hampshire town with only 700 residents, suggesting fraud.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The town clerk of Columbia, New Hampshire, confirmed that she miswrote 106 votes as 1,106 votes, causing a temporary reporting error that has been corrected. The error didn’t change the results of the statewide Senate race, which Hassan won by more than 56,000 votes.
THE FACTS: Social media users this week pointed out an apparent vote discrepancy in Columbia, New Hampshire, claiming Hassan received more votes in the midterm election than there were residents in the small town.
“Another Democrat miracle!” read one headline. “Maggie Hassan Wins 1,100 Votes from Town with Population Under 700.”
“This requires open revolt of a fake election across the board,” a Twitter user wrote alongside the headline.
Columbia reported 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 town clerk, who explained the situation in an email to The Associated Press on Tuesday.
“Apparently when I was transferring the results from one copy to the copy that I was going to send to the SOS, I wrote the ‘1’ twice,” Parkhurst wrote. “Obviously with only 309 votes cast, there couldn’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. That office had already been receiving calls noting the issue.
“Unfortunately, I’m human and make mistakes especially after an almost 15 hour day,” Parkhurst wrote. “There was no “voter fraud” as people are talking about.”
The secretary of state’s office issued its own statement on Monday, explaining that “the original figure entered was a simple typo.”
“The reported number far exceeded the number of ballots actually cast in the town,” the statement said. “The Secretary of State has confirmed with the town clerk of Columbia that Senator Hassan only received 106 votes on election night.”
Election results posted on the secretary of state’s website on Tuesday showed the correct vote totals. Statewide, Hassan beat Republican challenger Don Bolduc by more than 56,000 votes.
Associated Press writer Holly Ramer in Concord, N.H., contributed to this report.
This is part of AP’s effort to address widely shared misinformation, including work with outside companies and organizations to add factual context to misleading content that is circulating online. Learn more about fact-checking at AP.