Edwards’ Nomination Draws Support, Opposition Related To Windham Election Audit

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Paula Tracy photo

Anne Edwards is pictured at the head of the Executive Council table during the public hearing on her nomination to be a Superior Court judge.


CONCORD – Associate Attorney General Anne M. Edwards Parker said she has hoped to be a judge since becoming a lawyer in the 1980s and was inspired to pursue the law to help the people of New Hampshire as a way of giving back.

Being a judge, the Associate Attorney General said, would be fulfilling that interest.

She spoke of her duty and commitment to the state’s people as she faced a public hearing Wednesday on her nomination to Superior Court.

While she was widely praised for her years of experience in the law, she also faced opponents concerned about the actions she took during the 2021 Windham voting audit following the November 2020 General Election.

Auditors found no fraud but Trump supporters used the matter in their effort to find evidence of widespread voter fraud which was never found.

A folding machine used by the town to try to accommodate the number of absentee ballots in the November 2021 election was responsible for mistakenly adding to vote counts for candidates in four legislative seats.

“We found no evidence of fraud or political bias,” Mark Lindeman, one of the three auditors and the acting co-director of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, said. “I have heard no one actually articulate a credible hypothesis of how fraud could account for what we found.”

Edwards was in authority for the Attorney General in the audit mandated by the legislature.

Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington, D-Concord, noted she had never seen so many people in attendance for a public hearing on a judicial nomination.
She asked about implicit bias and what Edwards would do about minimizing that in the courtroom.

“It’s the responsibility first of all for the judge to recognize implicit bias” and make sure it is not allowed to “creep into decisions.”

When statistics are very strong that drug court can make a difference in not committing new crimes, she said, that is an effective means for people to be able to serve their sentences and not become repeat offenders.

Executive Councilor Janet Stevens R-Rye, asked about the backlog of cases in the Superior Court.

“I look forward to that challenge,” Edwards said. She said she learned new areas of law “quickly” when there is a need to do something fast.

“I believe it is stepping in, working hard, and understanding the systems,” she said. Technology is part of the answer, she said, but not all-encompassing.

Bryan Gould, a civil practice attorney in the state since 1990, said Edwards would not only tell him “no” but more importantly, why.
“Those are critical traits in judges,” he said.
Gould said Edwards has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of New Hampshire law and has honed her skills to be among the most qualified to head to the bench.

“She’s a class act in the courtroom,” he said.

State Rep. Kelly Potenza, R-Rochester, said she spoke in strong opposition to the Edwards nomination on ethical grounds.

Potenza alluded to her actions in a June 2011 case in Belknap County related to the Joint Underwriting Agreement and said the court had to remind her to follow the ruling.

Katja Fox of Wolfeboro, director of the division of behavioral health within the NH Department of Health and Human Services, spoke in strong support of Edwards.

She said she has worked with her on the state’s mental health settlement and quoting from Socrates, said she has the elements of a great judge.

Julie Smith urged the council to reject the nomination on election concerns.

Bill Christie, of the law firm Shaheen and Gordon, representing the NH Democratic Party on a wide range of election law issues, and said he has had years of experience with Edwards.

Christie said she has been a “model” lawyer and her skills and ethics cannot be questioned.

Heather Mullins of Bennington, an independent journalist, opposed the nomination on election law grounds related to Edwards’ actions during an election in Windham.
“Your ballot should be treated like currency,” she said.
“What happened with this audit and chain of custody which was breached,” she said, and Edwards showed up in the middle of the night on film.

“We need public trust on both sides, and I just think she dropped the ball on this,” Mullins said.

Councilor Joe Kenney, R-Wakefield, said New Hampshire is the gold standard for elections.
“Windham was an exception and we learned from that,” he said.

Daniel Richard quoted the state constitution and the “private right of the people” in opposing the nomination.
He said impartial judges are critical in order to maintain the confidence of the people appointing members to the bench and “I don’t believe Attorney Edwards meets that.”

Richard Tracy, chief investigator for the election law unit at the Attorney General’s Office and a former law enforcement officer.
“Anne is a leader,” he said. “She would not ask someone to do something she would not do.”

Tom Murray, co-founder of the Government Integrity Project, spoke in opposition to Edwards and her actions in relation to the Senate Bill 43 audit of Windham voting in 2021.

He said he disagreed with Kenney’s characterization of New Hampshire’s voting record.

David Scanlan, Secretary of State, spoke in strong support of Edwards’ nomination.

He said in recent years elections have been quite polarized and we have to rely on sound legal advice.

“I have had to lean heavily on Anne Edwards’ counsel,” he said in and out of court.

Scanlan said the issues raised related to the Windham audit. Legislators selected an outside auditor and did not include the Secretary of State or the Attorney General’s Office, with the exception of the AG providing security.

“I am saddened to hear of some of the allegations today…from people who do not know her. She knows the law,” Scanlan said.

He said he agrees with others who said she understands a very important area of law – election law – and that is timely “and I think that is the biggest value she offers the court” is that expertise.

Edwards concluded her remarks by saying, “I will work hard every day…to run an efficient, fair courtroom that is respectful,” while applying the facts to the law.

Sununu nominated Edwards last month.
She has 32 years of experience in the law and has been a long-time member of the staff at the Department of Justice.
A native of the state and a graduate of both Saint Anselm College in 1986 and Boston University Law School in 1989, she worked for private law firms in Manchester and Nashua before being tapped to work at the Department of Justice in 1996.

An experienced trial attorney who is now the state’s lead on education funding, property tax issues, and mental health, an area of expertise has also been in the ballot and election law.
She has overseen the Attorney General’s oversight of elections for over 20 years and has maintained they are free of widespread voter fraud when issues or concerns have come up, including in May 2018 when she told the state’s Ballot Law Commission there was no evidence of out-of-state voters illegally casting ballots in the Granite State.

She was recommended by the Judicial Selection Commission on March 2 and noted in her application,  “I do not just advocate on behalf of an agency but rather the good of the state.”
The five-member Executive Council listened for several hours of testimony Wednesday but did not vote.

The vote on Edwards’ nomination could be as early as May 16.

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