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NH assesses motives for Trump's voter-fraud claim

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 24. 2017 7:52PM
President Trump still claims massive voter fraud, but election officials like NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner insist there's no supporting evidence. 

CONCORD — State election officials, along with fans and foes of President Donald Trump, said Tuesday they weren’t surprised the White House and its press secretary doubled down on claims that millions of illegal voters denied Trump the popular vote win on Election Day.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said “maybe we will” have a federal investigation into whether voter fraud gave Democrat Hillary Clinton a 3 million-vote advantage in the popular vote. Trump easily won the presidency with 306 electoral votes.

“Anything’s possible I think at some point,” Spicer later added. “There is no investigation. I said it was possible. Anything is possible. It was a hypothetical question.”

Secretary of State Bill Gardner said Trump has been voicing what two nationwide polls found just before the election — that a majority believed voter fraud would play a decisive role.

“People seem to think there is voter fraud, and polls show that,” Gardner said during a telephone interview Tuesday.

The longest-serving state election official in the country said he was surprised when Trump in November mentioned “Virginia, New Hampshire and California” as states where he suspected fraud played a part.

New Hampshire is the only state in the country that requires election officials to take a photograph of someone who doesn’t have an identification with them at the polls and who can’t be vouched for by local officials.

“I’d be willing to bet the President doesn’t know that about New Hampshire,” Gardner said. “We don’t have the problems that do exist in other states.”

The Trump transition team had cited a Pew Research Study which came out in 2012 but focused on the results of the 2008 election and the need to update voter registrations.

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said Trump needs to stop trying to prosecute the last election and instead do his job.

“This was settled quite some time ago, but I’ll confirm again that both Democratic and Republican state officials have confirmed that there was no widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire,” Buckley said.

“It may be an unfortunate truth for President Trump, but Hillary Clinton won both New Hampshire and the popular vote fair and square. I hope he can come to terms with that reality, because he has a country to govern that requires his full attention. Pushing false claims like this won’t make Americans’ lives better.”

A conservative activist who supports election law reform said Trump’s focus on the question of fraud helps the campaign to change things here.

“To the extent the President is bringing more attention to who is voting and who should be voting and what the difference is between the two, this definitely keeps the debate open,” said Greg Moore, state director of Americans for Prosperity, a fiscally conservative interest group.

“The President has the largest bully pulpit in the world. This forces everybody in New Hampshire to ask the question: Are our election laws up to snuff? Should we have a residency requirement?”

Gov. Chris Sununu, a Newfields Republican, has said he wants to tighten up the state’s election-day registration law and supports changes in election laws that would line up residency more closely with domicile for the purposes of voting.

Sununu’s office declined comment for this report on Tuesday.

1,423 voters had no ID

Gardner told the Union Leader his office recently submitted a report to the Legislature on the 2016 election that verified that 1,423 people voted without identification after signing a challenged-voter affidavit.

This was the second presidential election under New Hampshire’s voter ID law that, unlike other states, does allow those without a picture card to vote as long as they sign the affidavit.

Gardner’s office has sent out follow-up letters to verify the addresses given. He expects not all of them will line up.

“We’ll have some no longer at that address or mail undeliverable,” he said. “We always do.”

Records show that about 6,000 voters in November produced out-of-state driving or non-driver ID cards, Gardner said. Just under half were from Massachusetts.

Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan, who supervises local elections, said there were a scattering of complaints challenging individual voters on Nov. 8, but there was no “widespread argument” of voter fraud.

More than 30 bills have been offered for the 2017 legislative session to change election laws.

The House Election Laws Committee today is scheduled to hold a hearing on a proposal by Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, to eliminate the discretion that local election officials now have to vouch for someone who doesn’t have an ID and shows up to vote.

Trump supporters argue students in college towns who don’t live here year round should be unable to claim residency to cast a ballot. New Hampshire’s domicile law clearly permits them to say they live here and to vote on Election Day as long as they do not vote in a different state as well.

New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary winner, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, said Trump’s claim that illegal voting cost him the popular vote has no factual basis.

“That is a total nonsensical statement,” Sanders told Capitol Hill reporters in his office, adding it was a “delusional statement.”

But Sanders said Trump knows what he’s doing.

“He is sending a message to every Republican governor in this country to go forward with voter suppression,” Sanders said.


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