“Facts have come to light that indicate that a pivotal, close election was likely changed through voter fraud on November 8, 2016: New Hampshire’s U.S. Senate Seat, and perhaps also New Hampshire’s four electoral college votes in the presidential election. … It has long been reported, anecdotally, that out-of-staters take advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day registration and head to the Granite State to cast fraudulent votes. Now there’s proof.”
— Kris Kobach, vice chairman of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, in an op-ed in Breitbart, Sept. 7, 2017
The Fact Checker has kept close track of claims of widespread voter fraud, one of President Trump’s favorite talking points from the campaign and from the White House. Over and over again, we found little to no evidence to support his claims of voter fraud that is prevalent enough to tip elections, as he claims.
Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state, is now leading the charge to investigate voter fraud in the U.S. electoral system. And he claims to have finally found the smoking gun. So of course, we checked it out.
Is there now proof that shows fraudulent votes tipped the presidential and Senate races in New Hampshire?
The short answer: No.
Kobach is referring to data from New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper, a Republican. According to state data that Jasper requested, there were 6,540 people who had out-of-state driver’s licenses who were registered to vote on Election Day.
Among that group, 81.2 percent (5,313) had neither a New Hampshire driver’s license nor a registered vehicle in the state.
That’s enough people to swing close elections, Kobach wrote. He argued that the 5,313 voters “have not followed the legal requirements for residents regarding driver’s licenses, and it appears that they are not actually residing in New Hampshire. It seems that they never were bona fide residents of the State.”
“Those 5,313 fraudulent votes were more than enough to swing the election. If 59.2 percent or more of them went for Hassan, then the election was stolen through voter fraud. That’s likely, since the surrounding states are Democrat strongholds,” Kobach wrote.
Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire by 2,732 votes and Democrat Maggie Hassan won the U.S. Senate seat by 1,017. So in theory, 5,313 fraudulent votes would have been enough to tip both elections. (Note: We updated the Hassan turnout figures with revised data from the New Hampshire Secretary of State.)
Were the 5,313 votes fraudulent? There’s no evidence to support that. Kobach didn’t offer support for that claim in his opinion piece, either. (His spokeswoman did not respond to our request for comment.)
Instead, Kobach misrepresented a key voting feature in New Hampshire, which allows temporary residents with out-of-state licenses to register and vote. It’s a controversial provision that critics, like Kobach, view as a loophole that makes the state vulnerable to fraud.
A “domicile” is someone who lives primarily in New Hampshire but doesn’t necessarily intend to live there permanently. A “resident” is someone who intends to live in the state indefinitely. You have to be a resident in order to get a driver’s license in New Hampshire. But you can vote as a domicile, even if you’re a resident in another state.
You don’t have to have a New Hampshire driver’s license if you don’t have a car. And depending on where you live in New Hampshire, you can prove your domicile status using other forms of identification than a driver’s license or a state identification card.
If you can’t prove your domicile status when you register, you have to sign an affidavit certifying that you are voting only in New Hampshire (as it is illegal to vote in more than one state). This provision is particularly useful for college students, who temporarily live in New Hampshire but do not intend to stay there permanently.
According to the New Hampshire secretary of state, the state sent letters to 6,033 people who signed domicile affidavits, and 458 letters were returned by the Postal Service because they could not be delivered. But there’s no state requirement to conduct follow-up investigations on the 458 voters.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the 458 people fraudulently voted in the elections — and even if it did, it’s a much smaller scope than the 5,313 that Kobach claims were fraudulent votes.
New Hampshire is one of 15 states that allow same-day voter registration on Election Day. If they do not have adequate documentation to register, they must sign a challenged voter affidavit certifying that they are eligible to vote. From the 2016 primary and general elections, there were 1,423 people who signed challenged voter affidavits, and 129 voters have been forwarded to the attorney general for further investigation.
Further, there were 196 names that were marked as a New Hampshire voter registration checklist, but also appear to have voted in another state in the November 2016 general election. State officials are investigating the 196 cases, and there is no evidence yet that these are confirmed voter fraud cases.
[Update: According to the Lawrence Journal-World, Kansas also has a provision in its state laws that potentially allow out-of-state residents to vote. In an interview with several Republican and Democratic election officials in Kansas, the newspaper found that “when it comes to checking whether voters actually live in the state, it is not clear that Kansas does any more than New Hampshire."]
The Pinocchio Test
Kobach claims that there are now “facts” and “proof” that show out-of-state voters took advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day registration provision to commit voter fraud. That is hardly the case.
Kobach says there were 5,313 fraudulent ballots cast by out-of-state voters in New Hampshire. That is not supported by facts. New Hampshire allows temporary residents with out-of-state IDs to vote in the state, as long as they primarily live in the state. It does not necessarily mean these voters committed fraud. The state is investigating 196 people who voted in another state but were on the New Hampshire voter list. Even if all 196 people were confirmed as fraudulent cases, it would not be enough to tip the outcome of either the Senate or the presidential race.
Words like “facts” and “proof” actually mean something — everything, really — to us at The Fact Checker. We award Four Pinocchios.
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