BRENTWOOD — A Hampton couple accused of voting twice in the 2016 general election made their first appearance in court Tuesday as they prepare to defend themselves in a case of alleged fraud that resulted from a new voter crosscheck program.

John S. Fleming Jr., 71, and Grace Fleming, 70, are charged with felony-level violations of state law for allegedly casting an absentee ballot in Hampton for the Nov. 8, 2016, election and another ballot in Belchertown, Mass., during the same election.

The Flemings, who have pleaded not guilty, remained outside the courtroom in Rockingham County Superior Court while their attorney, Nicholas Howie, and prosecutors from the Attorney General’s office met at the judge’s bench to discuss their case as it moves forward. They’re expected to be back in court on Jan. 4.

Assistant Attorney General John Kennedy would not say whether the state has offered a plea deal to the Flemings.

Howie also wouldn’t comment on any potential plea offers.

“We’re discussing everything. There’s an open dialogue between us and the AG’s office,” he said.

According to the state Attorney General’s office, the votes allegedly violated a state law that prohibits knowingly voting in more than one state.

New Hampshire is part of the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program — a multi-state database used to compare voter information to identify voters who are registered in more than one state.

The Secretary of State’s office is responsible for investigating any matches found during the crosscheck to see if a voter cast more than one ballot in the same election. The results of the investigations are sent to the Attorney General’s office for possible prosecution.

The Flemings were the first to be indicted since New Hampshire entered the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program, which was signed into law in 2016.

A third voter, Spencer McKinnon, 20, was also indicted on a similar charge by a Strafford County grand jury in September.

According to authorities, McKinnon allegedly checked in at the checklist and cast a ballot in Durham during the 2016 general election, but also submitted an absentee ballot for the same election in Dracut, Mass.

In May, the Secretary of State’s office referred 51 cases to the attorney general for further investigation.

Kennedy said those investigations are ongoing.

McKinnon and the Flemings face the possibility of 3 ½ to 7 years in state prison and a $4,000 fine if convicted. They could also lose the right to vote in New Hampshire if convicted of a willful violation of state election laws.

rockinghamnews@unionleader.com