Data on Out-of-State IDs Fuels Cries of 'Fraud' in New Hampshire's 2016 Election
A newly released report from the New Hampshire Secretary of State and Department of Safety says a majority of people who used out-of-state IDs to register in last November’s elections haven’t registered vehicles in New Hampshire or gotten in-state drivers licenses in the months since. While this data alone doesn’t provide proof of voter fraud, as NHPR has noted before, it's quickly become fodder in an ongoing debate about New Hampshire’s voting requirements.
The data came in response to a request from House Speaker Shawn Jasper, who said he was seeking the statistics in part to inform future voting law changes. Among other things, Jasper asked for information on whether those who register to vote in New Hampshire also obtain driver’s licenses or car registrations here.
After comparing voter registrations from the November 2016 election to DMV records, the state agencies said about 81 percent of the roughly 6,500 people who registered using out-of-state IDs last year have done neither. New Hampshire law allows people to register to vote using out-of-state IDs, provided they fulfill other state voting requirements or sign an affidavit affirming their eligibility.
The number of voters in the data amounts to less than one percent of the overall electorate. But given that Democrats won several top races last year along thin margins — Maggie Hassan defeated Kelly Ayotte in the U.S. Senate race by 1,017 votes, while Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump here by 2,736 votes — Republicans were quick to point to the report as evidence that out-of-state voters illegitimately swayed the election.
Within hours of the report’s release, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach penned a Breitbart column pointing to the data as evidence that “a pivotal, close election [the U.S. Senate Race between Kelly Ayotte and Maggie Hassan] was likely changed through voter fraud.” Kobach is co-chair of the Trump administration's Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, which is meeting in New Hampshire next week and of which New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner is a member.
Gardner, in an interview Thursday evening, said he hadn’t yet read Kobach’s column. But, Gardner said, “I’ll certainly talk to him about it next week.”
When asked if he had any reason to doubt the legitimacy of last year’s election outcome, Gardner replied: “No.”
“That’s why I want to get the facts out there,” Gardner added, referring to his participation on the Trump voting commission. “Not just good facts. I want all the facts.”
The report released Thursday doesn’t say where the people who used out-of-state IDs and didn’t follow up with in-state licenses or vehicle registrations voted.
Earlier this year, using data provided at the time by the Secretary of State’s office, NHPR found that out-of-state IDs were mostly used in areas surrounding college campuses. New Hampshire law allows out-of-state college students to vote in-state, as long as they meet all other eligibility requirements.