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Secretary of State Gardner promises never-before-seen info on N.H. voter fraud

  • New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner says show the proof of busloads of people from Massachusetts. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file

  • New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner looks over voter sheets in at the State House in 2014. Gardner has promised a report with never-before-seen information on allegations of voter fraud in New Hampshire. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor file



For the Monitor
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Secretary of State Bill Gardner says a comprehensive report on voter fraud in New Hampshire expected to be released in early June should include a new level of never-before-seen information.

Gardner said he hopes the report will allow Granite Staters to come to their own conclusions regarding how widespread an issue voter fraud is in the state.

“The report is going to be everything this office has done since last year with the authority that has been given to this office. And to use the resources that have not been used before that will provide us information that has never been received before,” Gardner said Wednesday in an interview with the Monitor.

Gardner explained that his office is looking at voting records from inside and outside New Hampshire, including “the information we’ve received with other states and we’re working with other states.”

He was referencing New Hampshire’s participation in the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which is used by some 30 states. The system compares voter checklists from state to state based on first name, last name and date of birth, to pinpoint voters who may be voting in more than one state.

Gardner said the report by the secretary of state’s office will also include information from the Division of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration.

“That way we’ll have something concrete, to say, ‘Here, this is what we’ve found, this is what we’ve done,’ ” Gardner said.

The report would come out before the beginning of the 2018 filing period for candidates in New Hampshire, which starts June 6, Gardner said.

Many New Hampshire Republicans have long railed against the state’s same-day voter registration law, saying it allows Democrats to game the system. And for years they’ve cited unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud.

Soon after the 2016 elections, New Hampshire was thrust smack in the middle of the voter fraud spotlight courtesy of allegations from President-elect Donald Trump.

Trump trounced Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in the all-important Electoral College vote, 306-232, to win the presidency. But he lost the national popular count by nearly 3 million votes to Clinton. And he was narrowly edged out by Clinton by about 1,500 votes in the fight for the Granite State’s four electoral votes.

Soon after his victory, Trump claimed he beat Clinton by either measure.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” Trump claimed. He singled out New Hampshire as one of three states with “serious voter fraud.”

While discounting allegations of widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire, newly elected Republican Gov. Chris Sununu followed through on his campaign pledge to beef up the state’s voter laws by signing into law months later a measure, Senate Bill 3, which tightened voter eligibility for same-day registration.

Two new GOP-backed bills, House Bill 372 and House Bill 1264, which would further tighten the rules on voter eligibility, are currently making their way through the state’s Republican-dominated House and Senate.

Democrats say the two bills are brazen attempts to make it harder for young people, especially college students, to vote in the state

Gardner, who testified in support of SB 3 and who backed the two new pieces of legislation, has also discounted allegations of widespread fraud. But he added that “we’ve had election fraud in every single election going back to 1998.”

In his more than four decades as secretary of state, Gardner said he has conducted 11 recounts that ended in a tie and emphasized that even sporadic cases of fraud are dangerous.

“Those elections that are decided by a very small number of votes, it doesn’t take very many examples of someone voting who shouldn’t be voting that altered an election,” he said.

Gardner’s also repeatedly raised concerns over perceptions of voter fraud, pointing in recent months to a University of New Hampshire poll conducted late last year suggested that more than half of Granite Staters believe voter fraud is a significant issue.

An in-depth report released early Wednesday by NHPR on a lack of specific cases of voter fraud focused the spotlight once again on the divisive issue.

Gardner indicated he’ll run for another two-year term in December, in an election decided by state lawmakers. And for the first time in years, he’s being challenged. His support of the voter eligibility bills will be an issue in his re-election bid, as will his upcoming report.

Gardner hoped his findings will lead to productive discussion on the controversy over voter fraud.

“I’m not sure if it will put it to rest, but this is how if we’re ever going to change people’s perceptions, the only way to do it is to get the facts and put the facts out there. And what we intend to do is to let everyone in this state know every single thing that we did, how we did it, what let us to do it in the first place, and then put in on the table, and say. ‘This is what we’ve found,’ he said.

“And that’s the only way we’re ever going to deal with perception versus reality, and it’s very important that we do this. And that’s why I’ve been determined to do it.”