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Trump debunk: Buses packed with voters were legit college students, AG claims

State House Bureau

May 29. 2018 11:13PM

CONCORD - New Hampshire has only prosecuted a handful of voter fraud cases in recent years, suggesting the problem is limited to a few “idiosyncratic situations,” according to Brad Cook, chairman of the state's Ballot Law Commission.

Cook made his observation on Tuesday after a detailed presentation on voter fraud investigations and prosecutions by the Secretary of State's office and the Attorney General's office.

Cook said he requested the presentation to clear the air after what he called “various public statements by public officials, starting with the assertion by the President of the United States that his loss in New Hampshire was due to massive voter fraud, which makes it desirable for this commission to be informed about what's going on.”

Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards described 28 allegations of wrongful voting received by the AG's office from Sept. 1, 2016 to May 29, 2018. Of those 28 complaints, five were determined to involve some type of wrongful voting.

“Have you found any evidence of busloads of people?” asked Cook, referring to President Trump's allegation that people were bused in from out of state to vote in New Hampshire.

Edwards shocked the room at first when she replied, “Yes, we have.”

She then went on to explain that the buses at issue may have been registered to out-of-state bus companies, but were filled with students from New Hampshire colleges or universities who were considered legal voters.

“At college campuses, the political parties will rent buses to move the college students to polling places so they can vote,” said Edwards. “The buses are usually from out of state, so we get these calls about buses from Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine. Each time, our investigators have been able to determine that the bus company is from Maine, Vermont or Massachusetts, but not the voters on the bus.”

Edwards detailed five cases of voter fraud the state has prosecuted since the 2016 election:

• an older woman who filed her husband's absentee ballot even though he had died four days before she mailed the ballot;

• a Southern New Hampshire University student who voted in Hooksett when he should have voted in Manchester;

• a man who owns residential properties in both Hampton and Salem voted in Hampton and later in the day in Salem;

• an individual voted in Dixville Notch even though he had not lived there in 2016 and appears to have established a domicile in Stark;

• an individual voted in Dixville Notch even though he lived in North Bridgewater and had a mailing address in Campton.

“Most of the other wrongful voting allegations involved situations where the wrong person's name was checked off on a voter checklist or where people had an established domicile but had been absent for different lengths of time and for different reasons but were still validly domiciled where they voted,” said Edwards.

“There are more matters from the 2016 elections that are still under investigation and could lead to additional prosecutions.”

Voter crosscheck

Secretary of State Bill Gardner presented the results of the state's participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program, in which New Hampshire compares its voter checklist of nearly 1 million registered voters with the checklists in 28 other states.

The first pass uses only first names, last names and dates of birth. On that basis, the search turned up 94,610 matches.

But after filtering for middle names, last four digits of Social Security numbers, changes of address and other available data, the number of “matched pairs” declined to 142, of which 51 have been referred to the Attorney General for further investigation.

“Does that mean these (51) are all improper votes?” said Gardner. “It does not. There might be something that we are not aware of, but that's why they are sent to the AG. They have the ability to do other things we cannot do.”

However small the numbers may be, one illegal vote is one too many when elections are decided by one vote, he said.

“I've had 32 recounts that ended in a one-vote victory,” Gardner said.

“I've seen about 200 that ended in single digits. One vote makes a difference.”

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