There’s a story that’s been going around over the past several months about busloads of people from Massachusetts driving into New Hampshire to vote illegally in last year’s election. President Trump told it to a group of senators in February, as part of a story about why he lost in New Hampshire. The head of his voter integrity panel, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, alluded to it in a Sept. 7 article on Breitbart.com. He also cited data made public by New Hampshire’s Republican House speaker that more than 5,000 people with out-of-state driver’s licenses had voted in New Hampshire in November. In his Breitbart piece, Kobach used those statistics to conclude that the outcome of the state’s Senate election, won by Democrat Maggie Hassan, and the awarding of its four electoral votes, which Hillary Clinton won by 0.4 percent, were “likely changed through voter fraud.” New Hampshire is a strange state to accuse of voter fraud. First, it’s tiny, with just 1.3 million people. Second, New Hampshire votes a lot more than most other states, electing its governor, lawmakers, and other state officials every two years instead of four. Bill Gardner, New Hampshire’s Democratic secretary of state, and also one of five Democrats on Trump’s 12-member voter fraud commission, has overseen 490 elections in his 41 years on the job. And while he says there are discrepancies in almost every election, including a handful of fraudulently cast votes, Gardner insists there’s no evidence to support claims that the problem is rampant.
The issue came to a head this month during the second meeting of the election integrity commission, which just so happened to be held in New Hampshire. The event, at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, did not lack for conflict and gave the first indication of the divisions that exist among panel members. With protesters outside waving “Vote Free or Die” banners, Kobach was lambasted by two of the committee’s Democratic members, including Gardner, for his assertion that the state was the victim of widespread voter fraud that tipped elections in Democrats’ favor.
Moments before the meeting got under way, Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen issued a statement condemning Kobach’s use of “slippery words” to convey a conclusion for which he offered no evidence. Shaheen, who served six years as New Hampshire’s governor, denied any significant voter fraud in her state and called the phenomenon “extremely rare,” there and across the nation.