BRENTWOOD — An Atkinson man is on trial for allegedly voting in Florida and New Hampshire during last November’s general election.
Jurors heard testimony Tuesday in Rockingham County Superior Court in the case against 77-year-old Robert Bell, who was indicted in July on a charge accusing him of voting in more than one state.
The felony charge accuses the registered Republican of knowingly checking in at the checklist in Atkinson and casting a New Hampshire ballot in the Nov. 6, 2018, election, even though he had voted earlier in the same election in Palm Coast, Fla., where he once lived.
During opening statements, Assistant Attorney General Nick Chong Yen said Bell’s double voting affected the results of two elections.
An Air Force veteran, Bell voted on Nov. 1, 2018, while visiting the Palm Coast and then returned to New Hampshire and voted again on Nov. 6 in Atkinson, Yen said.
Yen said Bell admitted to an investigator that he was more interested in Florida’s races for governor and U.S. Senate, “both of which he knew were tight races.”
He said Bell violated the idea of “one person, one vote.”
Defense attorney Alan Cronheim said Bell had lived in Florida and returned to visit the widow of a close friend. He said Bell had registered to vote in Florida in the past and while visiting during the last election he went by the voting registration location and “decided to see whether he was still eligible to vote.”
During an interview with Richard Tracy, an investigator with the Attorney General’s office, Bell initially stated that he had traveled to Florida in October 2018 to attend the wake and services for a friend who had died and that’s when he cast his vote after showing his Florida driver’s license.
He later contacted Tracy to explain that he had made a mistake.
Bell stated that he visited Florida in August 2018 for the friend’s services and recalled that the vote actually happened on Nov. 1, when he traveled to Florida to visit the widow.
Cronheim said Bell “made a mistake because he voted in those two places.”
“This is a case about confusion and not a crime,” Cronheim said.
The case against Bell came to light after the controversial political activist organization Project Veritas distributed a video showing Bell admitting to casting an early ballot in Florida and then voting in person in Atkinson.
Bell complained that he was recorded illegally by Project Veritas without his consent and contacted Atkinson police because he felt he was being harassed.
Closing arguments are expected Thursday morning.