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New Hampshire to submit voting records to Trump’s election commission

  • Secretary of State Bill Gardner gives a history of New Hampshire's Electoral College participation before electors cast their votes at the State House in Concord on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff)



Monitor staff
Friday, June 30, 2017

New Hampshire’s Secretary of State plans to hand over a decade’s worth of state voting rolls to President Donald Trump’s Election Integrity Commission.

Bill Gardner, a member of the commission, said Friday he is not sure how the information will be used, but that the state will submit the voter records that are public and available for review at the state archives in Concord.

“There’s no information (here) someone can’t publicly get anyway,” he said. “People have the right to purchase it, only what’s public by law.”

Commission vice chairman Kris Kobach sent a letter Thursday to all 50 states requesting they provide voters’ names, addresses, dates of birth, party affiliation, last four social security number digits and voting histories since 2006. New Hampshire collects that information from cities and towns in a centralized database, though only some of it can be made public under state law. Voters’ personal information, such their drivers license number, naturalization information, place of birth or social security digits are protected and won’t be released, said Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan.

The state doesn’t make the centralized database publicly available. Citizens are required to go to individual cities and towns to get public lists of registered voters.

However, political parties and candidates routinely buy access to the state voter rolls that Trump’s commission is requesting. The purchase fees are set by statute, though it’s not clear whether Gardner will charge the commission.

“I haven’t even thought about that,” he said.

Most recently, the New Hampshire Republican State Committee bought voter checklists at the start of June for $8,327, according to state records. Within the last year, voter information was purchased by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, both Maggie Hassan and Kelly Ayotte’s U.S. Senate campaigns and Catalyst for Change, a political action committee linked to a company in Washington D.C., that helps clients “target persuasive messaging” and “mobilize voters,” according to its website.

At least two Democratic secretaries of states in California and Kentucky are refusing to furnish the voter data, calling it an invasion of privacy. Kobach’s letter says any documents “submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public.” He asked for a response by July 14.

Trump formed the commission in May to review alleged voter fraud and tapped Gardner, a Democrat, to join. The appointment sparked concerns from state Democrats, who worried Trump would take advantage of Gardner to promote his own message. But state Republicans have dismissed the worries as “partisan politics.”

The commission hasn’t yet met in person. But members held a conference call Wednesday, in which Vice President Mike Pence said he wants the group to find common ground and let the facts speak for themselves, Gardner said. The commission will meet in Washington D.C., on July 19, though Gardner said he has few details about the agenda. His flight will be covered by the commission, not state funds, he said.

After Trump lost the presidential contest in New Hampshire, he and his advisers made repeated, unsubstantiated claims of “serious voter fraud” in the state. Gardner has denied “rampant” fraud in New Hampshire and said the state runs fair elections. After Trump made his first claim about fraud in the state in November, Gardner said he believed New Hampshire voters had confidence in the integrity of the state’s elections. This session, Gardner backed a Republican-authored bill seeking to place addition restrictions on same-day voter registration, a move he said would help combat public perception that fraud does exist.