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State sorting out voter affidavit returns

New Hampshire Sunday News

January 12. 2013 11:36PM

A week after the Secretary of State's Office sent out nearly 22,000 letters to voters who signed affidavits to vote or register to vote last year, 746 have come back marked "undeliverable."

But state officials say it's too soon to say whether any of those indicate voter fraud.

The Secretary of State's office will look into each returned letter to see whether there was "an obvious data error" that resulted in it going to the wrong address, explained Anthony Stevens, assistant secretary of state.

Once that office is done checking, it will compile a list of affidavits that need to be investigated and send that to the Attorney General's Office.

The Secretary of State's office is required by law to send letters to any voter who signed any of three kinds of affidavits in order to register to vote or to vote. If the letters come back from the post office as "undeliverable," state officials investigate to see if someone voted who shouldn't have.

Challenged-voter affidavits are for individuals who do not present valid photo identification when they vote; 5,424 people signed those in the general election last November.

Domicile affidavits are for those who have no proof of their address when they register to vote. A total of 13,939 people signed those during the 2012 election season.

And qualified-voter affidavits are signed by those who do not present valid photo identification when they register to vote. There were 2,630 letters sent to such individuals.

Anyone who signed a challenged-voter or qualified-voter affidavit got a letter that included a postcard that must be returned to the Secretary of State's office.

As of last Friday (Jan. 11), 2,266 postcards had been returned from the 5,424 challenged-voter letters that went out a week earlier (they have 90 days to return the cards). And 211 letters were returned as "undeliverable."

From the 2,630 qualified-voter letters, 574 postcards had been returned as of Friday (they have 45 days to return them). And 109 letters were returned as "undeliverable."

Of the three kinds of letters that went out on Jan. 4, only the domicile-affidavit letters do not require voters to respond, Stevens said. There were 426 of those letters that came back "undeliverable" as of Friday.

Anne Edwards, the associate attorney general who supervises elections for the Attorney General's Office, said there are always a "significant" number of challenged-voter affidavits during a Presidential election, especially in college communities.

But last week she told the House Election Law Committee that in the past decade, her office has uncovered only three instances in which someone voted who should not have.

One was a 17-year-old youth who shared a name with his father and voted under his name, she said. Another was a man who voted in a community where he owns a second home "because he was unhappy about the taxes in that community," instead of in his hometown.

And a third case involved a man who voted in Florida - and again in New Hampshire.

Edwards said there are always a lot of complaints about possible voting irregularities; it's a measure of how strongly people here feel about elections, she said.

"We follow up on all of those complaints," she said. "We have just not found that we have a significant problem with respect to people voting who should not be voting."

Looking for voter fraud
On Jan. 4, the Secretary of State's office sent out nearly 22,000 letters to individuals who signed affidavits to register to vote or to vote in last year's election. A week later, many voters had already sent back the required postcards, while other letters have come back "undeliverable."
 Challenged-voter affidavits
(90 days to return postcard)
Domicile affidavits
(no postcards to return)
Qualified-voter affidavits
(45 days to return postcard)
Follow-up letters
sent Jan. 4
Letters returned by
U.S. Postal Service
as "undeliverable,"
as of Jan. 11
Postcards returned
by voters,
as of Jan. 11
Source: NH Secretary of State's Office


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