Did 5,000 out-of-state voters cast illegal ballots in NH in November?
CONCORD — Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper says he's not drawing any conclusions about voter information received from the Secretary of State's office Wednesday, but says he wants to identify if future laws should be changed to prevent voter fraud.
Jasper last month asked the Department of Safety and the Secretary of State's office to compile statistics about voter registration, driver's licenses and vehicle registration to aid lawmakers considering election law changes.
The response he received Wednesday and made public Thursday shows 6,540 people registered to vote on Election Day in November using out-of-state licenses. As of this month, about 15 percent of them had New Hampshire licenses.
State law, however, allows someone to be domiciled in New Hampshire for voting purposes and be a resident of another state for driver's licensing purposes.
"It is likely that some unknown number of these individuals moved out of New Hampshire, it is possible that few may have never driven in New Hampshire or have ceased driving, however it is expected that an unknown number of the remainder continue to live and drive in New Hampshire," wrote Safety Commissioner John Barthelmes and Secretary of State Bill Gardner.
Democrats said the request itself shows Jasper is buying into voter fraud allegations.
"Using cherry-picked data in order to support a false claim is dangerous and irresponsible. Today's release of information by Speaker Jasper's office fans the flames of misinformation in order to further suppress our citizens' right to vote," Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn said in a written statement. "The fact of the matter is that there is no requirement to obtain a NH driver's license or register your car in order to exercise your constitutionally-protected right to vote.Even the restrictive Senate Bill 3 passed by Republicans earlier this year does not force a voter to obtain a NH license or register their car in New Hampshire.” "
Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley called voter fraud allegations a "time-honored New Hampshire Republican tradition."
"These out of state licenses can easily be accounted for by college students who have every right to vote in the state," he said.
In a statement sent to NH1 News, Speaker Jasper replied to Democrats' criticisms:
“We wanted to see how much progress we’ve made now that we have data that we were not able to collect previously. This has been a continuous process to gather information about what’s going on with our elections, and this certainly provides us with some very interesting and, in some cases, troubling information. There can be no conclusions drawn regarding the driver's licenses, other than for whatever reason, those people didn’t stay in the state or didn’t comply with the law or never were actually residents of the state. We won’t know that, and of course, 5,000 is a huge number.
“If you look at my history in the legislature, this is something that I have been working on for more than 10 years. These are logical questions to ask and we are just asking that the facts be presented. As I stated in my August letter, this data was sought to assist the legislature in assessing the current election laws and any legislation to change those laws in the upcoming session.”
Gardner, a Democrat, is a member of a commission President Donald Trump created in May to investigate allegations — offered without evidence — that millions of people voted illegally in 2016. Trump also has claimed he lost New Hampshire in November because thousands of people came by bus from other states to vote against him.
In the November 2016 election Donald Trump lost NH's 4 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton by just 2,736 votes and incumbent Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) lost to Maggie Hassan (D) by just 1,017 votes.
The commission, which has asked states for detailed information on every voter in the United States, is meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday.
Apart from the data on out-of-state license holders, the statistics provided to Jasper show that the state is separately investigating 196 names that appear to have been marked both as having voted in both New Hampshire and another state in November 2016. Local officials also flagged 59 cases in which there was a discrepancy between the address provided for voter registration and the address on record for the person's driver's license.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.