N.H. database flags 142 possible voter fraud cases, not Trump’s ‘thousands’

  • New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner looks over some of the voter sheets in the Executive Council Chambers at the State House Wednesday, Novermber 5, 2014. GEOFF FORESTER

  • New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner looks over some of the voter sheets in the Executive Council Chambers at the State House Wednesday, Novermber 5, 2014. GEOFF FORESTER

  • New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (right) turns towards Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach as Kobach talks about the article he wrote on a conservative website last week claiming that the 2016 New Hampshire Senate race “was likely changed through voter fraud” during a meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College in Goffstown on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

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

Associated Press
Published: 5/29/2018 5:34:10 PM

Fewer than 150 of the nearly 95,000 New Hampshire names flagged by a multistate voter registration database represent cases of possible fraud, the secretary of state said Tuesday.

The Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program is aimed at preventing voter fraud by identifying duplicate voter registration records among those voluntarily provided by states. New Hampshire was among 28 participants last year, though some states have dropped out or are re-evaluating the program amid criticism that it results in false matches and doesn’t properly protect personal information.

After the 2016 general election, the system flagged 94,610 New Hampshire voters whose first and last names and dates of birth matched those in other states. That amounts to about 1 in 9 voters, but officials eliminated all but 142 of the matches after taking a closer look at middle names and other information, including the marked checklists maintained by poll workers. Of the 142, officials have sent 51 to the attorney general’s office for investigation and are waiting for information from other states on the rest, Secretary of State Bill Gardner told the Ballot Law Commission.

The review follows President Donald Trump’s claim that he lost New Hampshire only because “thousands” of people came by bus to vote against him. Trump, who also has alleged repeatedly and without evidence that voter fraud cost him the popular vote, later created an elections integrity commission, of which Gardner was a member.

The controversial commission was shut down in January after many states had refused to comply with its request for detailed voter data, and some commission members had reported requests for communication from leadership going unanswered.

“For the first time, we really have an idea about this,” said Gardner, who was criticized by fellow Democrats for serving on Trump’s commission. “It raises the question of, “What does someone mean by widespread voter fraud? Does this come anywhere near that?’ ”

While that’s a judgment call individuals have to make for themselves, he said, “we wanted to make sure we did everything we could possibly think of to bring this down so there wasn’t going to be this high number.”

The Ballot Law Commission also heard from Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards about other types of voter fraud. She described a handful of prosecuted cases for each election cycle in the last two decades, including people who voted in multiple places because they owned property in more than one town, a 17-year-old who voted under his father’s name and a woman who forged her son’s application for an absentee ballot. In the last 18 months, the office investigated 28 complaints, only five of which were founded. Those included an older woman who filled out her husband’s absentee ballot four days after he died, Edwards said.

“That does not sound like a pattern of activity; it sounds like a bunch of idiosyncratic issues, not massive voter fraud,” said Brad Cook, the Ballot Law Commission’s chairman.

Concerns about voter fraud have fueled multiple efforts in the Republican-controlled Legislature to tighten the state’s election laws, which currently allow college students and others who consider the state their home to vote without being subject to full-fledged residency requirements, such as getting a New Hampshire driver’s license or registering a vehicle. The Legislature passed a bill to align the definitions of domicile and residency, but Republican Gov. Chris Sununu has asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in on whether it is constitutional.

Republicans argue that it clears up confusion and ends the practice of having two classes of voters in the state. Democrats argue it amounts to a poll tax and will suppress the student vote.

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