September 8th, 2017

Was voter fraud committed in New Hampshire in 2016?

Short but true answer: we don’t know.

New Hampshire is a a small state with a small population, and that means that a relatively small number of people can change the outcome there because it’s also a purple state. So the motive to commit fraud is certainly present, because in New Hampshire you’d get a lot of bang for your buck.

And the opportunity is there, as well, because New Hampshire has some voting laws that could be exploited by people seeking to change the results there. That doesn’t mean they do exploit them, but they could. Here’s the situation:

When people talk about the potential for “voter fraud” in New Hampshire, they often point to the idea that the state allows people to register on Election Day and to use out-of-state licenses. But that alone doesn’t mean those voters are doing anything illegal.

There are reasons why someone might legitimately register to vote with an out-of-state license – most obviously, they could have moved to the state recently or could be attending college here. (The state makes clear that out-of-state students attending college in New Hampshire are allowed to vote here, as long as they aren’t also voting in another state.)

To register with an out-of-state license, you still have to prove that you hold domicile in the state – using a utility bill or lease, for example, or by signing an affidavit affirming you actually live where you’re trying to vote. See here for more details on what’s required for first-time voters to register in New Hampshire.

I will go on record right now as saying that I think college students should not have the option of voting in the state where they’re attending school, unless they are bona fide residents and can prove it (for example, with a non-dorm address and a vehicle registered in the state and/or a job in the state, or have grown up there and are long-time residents). But I’m not the one making the laws in New Hampshire, and at present people are very much allowed to vote in New Hampshire if they attend college there but have a driver’s license from another state, as long as they can prove they are currently domiciled in New Hampshire. The possibilities for such proof are “a valid New Hampshire vehicle registration, a utility bill or other monthly bill (with the voter’s name on it), medical bills, pay stubs showing a current address or postmarked mail within the last 30 days”.

So all they need to prove domicile, really, is a piece of mail addressed to them. Or they can same-day register as long as they sign an affadavit that they are domiciled in NH, without even offering proof.

The current brouhaha over possible fraud in the 2016 election in New Hampshire centers on the following:

New data suggest that more than 5,000 people who cast ballots in New Hampshire in the 2016 U.S. presidential election might not have been residents of the state.

These voters likely used out-of-state driver’s licenses and have not since obtained an in-state license or registered a vehicle…

The new figures could potentially call into question the validity of the New Hampshire results for Nov. 8, when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton outpolled Republican nominee Donald Trump by a mere 2,736 votes.

The Democratic senator from the state was elected by an even smaller margin. Obviously, fraudulent votes might have made the difference, and it’s neither stupid nor duplicitous to suggest this as a possibility (as some Democrats have suggested). The accent, of course, is on the “might,” because it’s also possible that these were completely legal votes, due to the aforementioned same-day-voting law in New Hampshire that allows students and certain others to register there with proof of domicile and with out-of-state licenses, or with affidavits.

But there is also a New Hampshire law that goes like this:

Despite New Hampshire law mandating that drivers acquire a state driving license within 60 days of becoming a resident in the state, more than 80 percent of people who registered to vote with out-of-state licenses still had not received their in-state license or registered a new vehicle – nearly 10 months after the election.

In addition, 196 people were under investigation for voting in two states.

As previously mentioned, quite a few election results in NH (including Clinton’s victory there in 2016) were decided by a number small enough to have been affected, if in fact a significant number of the missing license plates represent fraud. It’s not cherry-picking or misleading to say so, although it is also necessary to say it’s possible that they do not represent fraud. At the moment we have no way to know.

What we do know is that it’s quite likely that a lot of these people failed to comply with New Hampshire’s law on car registration:

Jasper addressed the criticism that the figures can be accounted with just college students, claiming there were multiple people who “did not comply with the law.”

“College students are eligible to vote if they declare domicile here, but anybody who does that then has to comply with the laws of the state,” he said, according to WMUR9. “If someone is domiciled in New Hampshire (and has a vehicle), then within 60 days, they need to obtain a driver’s license. I think we will find that within that 5,000, there will be many who did not comply with the law.”

But which law is “the law” the they may not have complied with? The one about being domiciled in NH in order to vote there? Or the one about vehicle registration in the state by a certain date, if you claim to be domiciled there? He says “we will find,” but will the state actually investigate?

I’d very much like (although I doubt I’ll get) a further breakdown on how the people with out-of-state driver’s licenses proved they were domiciled in the state. But that’s not even really required, because even without any such proof, people can sign affidavits stating they are domiciled in NH. Later, the state supposedly tries to validate those affidavits (but the votes have already been counted in the state’s total, at least as far as I can tell):

Within 90 days of the election, the Secretary of State’s [of NH] office is required to mail letters to anyone who filled out an affidavit in order to vote, using the address listed on their affidavit. (The letters are labeled with instructions that they are not supposed to be forwarded, in case someone set up mail forwarding.)

If the mail comes back as undeliverable or the voter doesn’t respond with a valid confirmation, those cases get forwarded to the attorney general’s office for further investigation. (That said: The attorney general’s office only has one part-time attorney working on election-related investigations, and the agency has made no secret about the fact that they are running behind on investigating all kinds of election law complaints, not just voter eligibility cases.

That seems pretty loose to me.

You can find a chart at the link that shows how many affidavits were not validated from the 2012 election; there were quite a few. And “validation” seems to just mean that someone returned a postcard which the state mails to the address that was given as the domicile

The secretary of state shall cause a letter of identity verification to be mailed by first class mail to each voter who executed a challenged voter affidavit or affidavit of religious exemption in accordance with paragraph I, unless the same person is sent letter of identity verification pursuant to RSA 654:12, V(b). The letter shall be mailed by January 10 in every odd-numbered year in the case of persons executing challenged voter affidavits or affidavits of religious exemption at a state primary or general election, or within 90 days after any other election. The secretary of state shall mark the envelope with instructions to the United States Post Office not to forward the letter and to provide address correction information. The letter shall notify the person that a person who did not present valid photo identification voted using his or her name and address and instruct the person to return the letter within 30 days with a written confirmation that the person voted or to contact the attorney general immediately if he or she did not vote.

As I said, seems pretty loose to me.

So, to summarize: the possibility is there, the motivation is there, and the chance that fraud would actually pay off is especially high in New Hampshire. Is it happening, and if so is it happening to an extent great enough to have swayed the election? We probably will never know.

[ADDENDUM: Recently a bill was passed to improve the situation in the state. It was signed by the governor in July. It’s not perfect, but it’s better. You can be pretty sure it will be met with legal challenges from those opposed.]

13 Responses to “Was voter fraud committed in New Hampshire in 2016?”

  1. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    New Hampshire has a Republican controled legislature and Governor. This situation could be easily addressed if the political will to do so existed. Clearly, it does not.

  2. Griffin Says:

    Funny how when a ‘D’ ekes out a close victory the media and the establishment have little curiosity in voter fraud. Wonder what the interest would be in a reverse incident?

    Of course as we found out here in Washington in a gubernatorial election about 12 years ago they just ‘find’ a box of ballots behind a machine and ‘voila’ problem solved.

    This will always only go one way.

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Geoffrey Britain:

    Recently a bill was passed to improve the situation in the state. It was signed by the governor in July. It’s not perfect, but it’s better.

    It will be met with legal challenges from those opposed.

  4. F Says:

    It feels to me as if it is in the interest of voters from both parties to investigate and fix this situation. Do NH residents really want MA cross-border voters deciding ballot issues — in addition to which candidate gets elected — on their behalf? Seems to me like a small state would want to protect their sovereignty. But then that requires human resources which are always stretched thin. Not a good situation.

  5. Ken Mitchell Says:

    Was there voter fraud? Absolutely, yes. There’s no question about it. Voter fraud has been the prime mover of the Democrats since Mary Landreau in Louisiana.

    Was the fraud in NH enough to swing the election? Less certain, but probably yes. It’s why the Dems are so passionate and vocal about preventing ANY INVESTIGATION of voter fraud, and trying to prevent any measures to prevent it.

  6. blert Says:

    Cross border voting in New Hampshire has been a feature for more than a generation.

    Progressives from Boston commute to double vote every season… with many bragging on such.

    Duh.

    One would have to be deliberately obtuse to deny it.

    It’s not even a close question.

  7. neo-neocon Says:

    blert:

    You can say whatever you want, but unless you can document it your claims are basically worthless. That’s what this piece is about.

    The NH legislature recently passed a bill to try to close the loophole at least somewhat, though. I provided some links in an addendum.

  8. Cornhead Says:

    Tip of the iceberg.

    Given the motor voter law I am confident that all sorts of illegal aliens vote in California and many other states. Maybe the NYT should put some crack reporters on this.

  9. TommyJay Says:

    Project Veritas was able to get sample utility bill documents and perhaps software enabling fake utility bills from a Dem campaign office a few years ago.

    Neo says that one could always go the affidavit route instead, but don’t all affidavits carry roughly the same perjury penalty everywhere? Isn’t the fake ute bill and illegal voting penalty almost always a lower risk than a false affidavit risk? On the other hand, I’d also guess that the actual perjury penalties average way less than the statutory maximums.

  10. MollyNH Says:

    I lost my NH license and was able to vote by affidavit, however my vote was never sequestered and went right into the machine just like my husbands. I did receive at my address a validation card & secured a copy of My license. I Read a source that said of 5000 non NH licenses a bit over 1000 were issued. There was a request that the legislature law requiring at least a 30 day residency to vote be enjoined by a judge, but miraculously the judge declined, sending the dems into tissy fits. MTV was a huge factor in getting these student votes to take place, skewed the whole state for years.
    They must all love their mommies because that is practically all we have for representation, usually Catholic women proudly pro choice if you can stomach that one.

  11. MollyNH Says:

    @ Tommy Jay my NH affidavit was not done by a Notary. Just the head of check list with no embossed seal affixed

  12. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Have some committee staffers conduct a study of the toughest states on voter fraud. Then have the staffers craft a bill that duplicates the best features that prevent voter fraud. Pass the bill and send it to the Governor for his signature. Total time from start to finish shouldn’t take more than six weeks. The bill’s provisions have presumably been previously found to be constitutional, ensuring its defensibility in court.

    Rinse and repeat for other issues.

    The states are intended to be experimental societal laboratories, learning from each other’s experiences and then emulating successful outcomes.

    It’s not rocket science and the more difficult governance is, the more surely the electorate itself is the problem.

    “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is entirely unsuited for any other” John Adams

  13. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    If the EC had been closer, those voters might have had more incentive to subsequently prove they were eligible. As it was, persons voting both legally and illegally have less incentive to follow up.

    I’m sure there are conservatives who have double-voted somewhere, but the only people I have ever heard bring it up that they even could were all liberals. Including some close relatives, BTW.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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