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Report: Questioned voters in 2016 greater than Senate race margin of victory

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

September 07. 2017 4:58PM


CONCORD — A new report on the 2016 election found nearly 1,100 people who cast ballots here in New Hampshire were either under investigation for voting in more than one place or signed affidavits with addresses that may no longer be valid, House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson disclosed Thursday.

This total of questioned voters — 1,094 — is greater than the 1,017-vote margin by which Democrat Maggie Hassan won her U.S. Senate seat over incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte on Nov. 8.

"This is what we have been saying for a long time. We need to tighten things up because we just aren't sure whether all are properly here to vote," Jasper said during a telephone interview from a national speakers' conference in Ohio.

Also, Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Safety Commissioner John Barthlemes reported that 5,526 voters who showed out-of-state driver's licenses on Election Day by Aug. 31 had neither obtained an in-state driver's license nor registered a car in the state.

Kris Kobach, secretary of state in Kansas and vice chairman of President Donald Trump's voting integrity commission, insisted Jasper’s report reveals decisive fraud in a commentary he did for the conservative Breibart News Thursday.

“Now, however, facts have come to light that indicate that a pivotal, close election was likely changed through voter fraud on November 8, 2016: New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate seat, and perhaps also New Hampshire’s four electoral college votes in the presidential election,” Kobach wrote.

U.S. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, both D-N.H., reacted strongly to Kobach's suggestion that voter fraud played any part in Hassan’s narrow victory last November.

“It has been clear since its inception that President Trump's voting commission is an attempt to grossly mislead voters and lay the groundwork for broad-scale, politically motivated voter suppression. Now, the head of President Trump's misguided commission is using deceiving and irrelevant data to rehash the same false claims that have been debunked time and again by independent analysis and members of both parties in New Hampshire,” Shaheen and Hassan wrote in a joint statement released late Thursday night.

“The law clearly states that college students and other New Hampshire residents can vote without a New Hampshire ID, and these false partisan claims are deliberately twisting the facts. Secretary Gardner's association with this partisan commission risks tarnishing his long legacy of fighting for the New Hampshire primary and promoting voter participation, and it would be in keeping with his distinguished record to immediately relinquish any role with this commission."

Capitol Hill staffers for the state’s U.S. senators on background pointed out that even those questioned voters aren't necessarily ineligible to vote, and given how close the election was, those voters likely were split between Ayotte and Hassan.

Rep. Marjorie Porter, D-Hillsborough, echoed the sentiment that voters with non-New Hampshire licenses or without a driver's license could also be eligible voters.

"Many do not drive or own a car. You're not required to have a New Hampshire license or register a car here in order to vote. Requiring one would be a poll tax," Porter said.

Jasper agreed many of these out-of-state license holders could be students from elsewhere who attend New Hampshire colleges. But he said under state law if you come to the state to live and bring an automobile with you, that vehicle is to be registered in the state within 60 days.

"If these are all college students, then fine, but it also means we are losing a lot of revenue because if they are driving cars, they should get them registered here," Jasper said.

"This underscores the importance of making sure college students understand the consequences of voting here."

Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley said Jasper's report is selective misrepresentation meant to suggest there is a big voter fraud problem.

"Speaker Jasper's inquiry is just a rephrasing of President Trump and Governor Sununu's debunked lie about voters being bused into New Hampshire to vote illegally. Voter fraud accusations are a time-honored New Hampshire Republican tradition, and a tactic they've been using to scare away voters for decades," Buckley said in a statement.

"Republican legislators are searching for data that affirms their ‘belief' of voter fraud, which was the only basis for the vote suppression law SB 3 Governor Sununu signed into law this July. Republicans should have looked for proof before they passed a law to remedy a problem that doesn't exist, not afterward."

Senate Bill 3

Jasper said the voter domicile law Gov. Chris Sununu signed that is subject to a federal lawsuit would tighten some of the election laws, but this report reveals more work needs to be done.

Among its many provisions, SB 3 requires that individuals registering to vote provide proof of intent to be domiciled in the state, and in some cases complete a lengthy affidavit. Individuals attempting to register within 30 days of an election face additional requirements.

The League of Women Voters and the Democratic Party have joined a lawsuit arguing the new law amounts to voter suppression of low-income, minority and disabled voters.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Whitefield, said Jasper wants to impose a car registration requirement on college students who don't intend to be residents here, even if they do vote in New Hampshire.

"The fact of the matter is that there is no requirement to obtain a New Hampshire driver's license or register your car in order to exercise your constitutionally protected right to vote," Woodburn said. "Even the restrictive Senate Bill 3 passed by Republicans earlier this year does not force a voter to obtain a New Hampshire license or register their car in New Hampshire."

The Legislature for the first time set aside $500,000 in the two-year state budget for beefed-up enforcement of election laws in the Attorney General and Secretary of State Offices.

"This is the first time we have really have solid data with names," Jasper said. "This is the beginning of a long process. We are serious about this."

Breakdown of questioned and out-of-state license voters

Here's the breakdown of the questioned voters found in the report Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Safety Commissioner John Barthlemes gave in response to House Speaker Shawn Jasper's request for the information:

• Voting twice: 196 voters. New Hampshire and other state prosecutors are investigating this number who gave the same name and the same date of birth and voted here and in at least one other state.

• Qualified affidavits: 440 voters. Nearly all of these 764 citizens signed an affidavit in order to vote on Election Day because they didn't have or did not want to present a voter ID card prior to casting a ballot. Among this group, 377 did not return a postcard sent to verify their address and the post office reported another 63 postcards could not be delivered to the address given.

• Domicile affidavits: 458 voters. These were people who registered to vote and signed an affidavit attesting the address they gave was accurate. There were 6,033 domicile affidavits and of those, 458 were reported as undeliverable to the address that had been given.

• College towns: Last February, Gardner reported about 5,900 "new" voters — those not on the pre-election checklist — who cast ballots last November presented out-of-state driver's licenses at the polls. Among this group, nearly two-thirds of them voted in college towns: Durham (1,608); Hanover (774); Keene (624); and Plymouth (397).

klandrigan@unionleader.com

The report can be viewed below:



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