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Registered Democrats cannot vote in New Hampshire’s Republican primary election.
Undeclared voters, people who aren’t affiliated with the Democratic or Republican parties, can vote in the primary. Nikki Haley is courting undeclared voters.
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Editor’s note: We updated this story on Jan. 19 to explain New Hampshire’s same-day registration law and how it fuels myths of voter fraud.
MANCHESTER, N.H. — Former President Donald Trump has accused one of his rivals, Nikki Haley, of courting Democrats to vote for her in the Jan. 23 Republican presidential primary in New Hampshire.
"As you know, Nikki Haley in particular is counting on the Democrats and liberals to infiltrate the Republican primary," Trump said at his Jan. 16 rally in Atkinson, New Hampshire. "You know that that's what's happening. Have a group of people coming in that are not Republicans and it's artificially boosting her numbers here, although we're still leading her by a lot." He repeated the accusation in Portsmouth the next day.
We asked the Trump campaign for evidence and received no reply.
Trump has previously portrayed Haley, his former United Nations ambassador, as a liberal, including on border and immigration policies.
Trump’s statement is misleading. New Hampshire voters registered as Democrats cannot vote for Republican presidential primary candidates.
People not affiliated with a party can vote in the primary, and Haley is courting those voters.
In New Hampshire, the deadline to switch parties and vote in the presidential primary was Oct. 6, 2023. About 5,000 people changed their affiliation — the majority from Democratic to undeclared, according to the secretary of state’s office.
After our article published, a reader sent us an email about same-day voter registration. New Hampshire is one of many states that allow residents to register to vote at the polls — a law that was adopted with Republican support in New Hampshire. But to register to vote a person must meet the state’s proof of residency requirements, such as providing a New Hampshire driver’s license, a document from a school showing that the person lives in campus housing, a property tax bill or residential lease.
In 2016, New Hampshire Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu claimed Democrats take advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day voter registration law to bus voters in from out of state. We rated Sununu’s statement Pants on Fire. The state’s top election official told us voter fraud amounted to one or two cases a year. Sununu later walked back his comments.
Political science professors in New Hampshire told us that the claim about bussing in out of state voters is a long standing myth.
"It would be quite difficult to fake that and the time, money, and effort it would take to put together even one busload of rogue voters would be far better spent on (getting out the vote), phone banking and other traditional, legal ways to try to win an election," said Christopher Galdieri at St. Anselm College.
Andrew E. Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, said about 10% to 15% of the electorate register at the polls. Same-day registration is used by new residents and young people who have not registered before.
Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley greets New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, one of her key backers, Jan. 17, 2024, at a rally in Rochester, N.H. (Louis Jacobson/PolitiFact)
Registered Democrats cannot vote in New Hampshire’s GOP primary.
But the state’s "undeclared voters" who are not affiliated with the Republican or Democratic parties can still vote in the GOP presidential primary. Undeclared voters who vote in the Republican primary are then registered as Republicans, although they can later change their registration back to undeclared, said Anna Sventek, a spokesperson for Secretary of State David M. Scanlan.
As of Dec. 28, 2023, New Hampshire had more undeclared voters than voters registered with either of the two major political parties:
Semafor reported that Haley in December said her goal was "to get as many people in the tent as we can."
"If we get independents, if we get conservative Democrats, that’s what the Republican Party should pursue," she said.
Sununu, who has endorsed Haley, told Semafor that Haley was appealing to undeclared voters.
"A lot of them tend towards her, not because she wavers on policy, not because she moves away from her conservative credentials, but because she comes at it with this transparent sense of trust," he said in December.
Olivia Perez-Cubas, a Haley campaign spokesperson, told PolitiFact that Haley is "not counting on Dems and liberals to infiltrate the party. Democrats can't vote in the NH primary."
However, when asked about undeclared voters, Perez-Cubas said Haley’s campaign welcomes support from voters who are "fed up" with President Joe Biden and "don’t want a Trump-Biden rematch."
Polls show that Haley is in second place, far behind Trump, in New Hampshire. But she is leading Trump among undeclared voters.
A Jan. 16 online poll of likely primary voters by St. Anselm College found that 52% of undeclared voters said they will vote for Haley, 37% will vote for Trump and 4% will vote for Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
A CNN poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Jan. 4 to Jan. 8 found that Haley’s support among undeclared voters has grown since November. The poll, taken before former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie exited the race, showed that Haley topped Trump by 26 points among undeclared voters.
Bradford Cook, chair of the state Ballot Law Commission and a registered Republican, told PolitiFact in an email that Haley and DeSantis are trying to attract unaffiliated voters.
"How successful they will be we shall see," Cook said.
PolitiFact Senior Correspondent Louis Jacobson contributed to this article.
New Hampshire Department of Justice, Deadline to Change Party Affiliation for Voting in the 2024 Presidential Primary, Sept. 18, 2023
New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan, Voting in party primaries, Accessed Jan. 17, 2024
New Hampshire Secretary of State, Party registration history, Dec. 28, 2023
NBC News, Trump hits 50% in New Hampshire primary poll, Jan. 17, 2024
CNN, CNN Poll: Haley trims Trump’s lead to single digits in New Hampshire, Jan. 9, 2024
Semafor, Nikki Haley has a theoretical path to victory. Her rivals want to keep it that way. Dec. 15, 2023
The Intelligencer, The Plan to Get New Hampshire Liberals to Vote for Nikki Haley, Jan. 5, 2024
WMUR, Most New Hampshire voters are registered as undeclared, latest data shows, Jan. 15, 2024
New York Times, Haley Looks to New Hampshire With a Focus on Independents, Jan. 16, 2024
Portsmouth Herald, What's best strategy for undeclared anti-Trump voters in NH primary: Haley or Biden? Jan. 17, 2024
Politico, Trump turns his ire on Haley, with barrage of policy, personal and conspiratorial shots, Jan. 17, 2024
Real Clear Politics, Average of New Hampshire polls, through Jan. 16, 2024
Telephone interview, Anna Sventek, a spokesperson for the Secretary of State, Jan. 17, 2024
Email interview, Bradcord Cook, chair of the New Hampshire Ballot Law Commission, Jan. 17, 2024
Email interview, Olivia Perez-Cubas, Nikki Haley campaign spokesperson, Jan. 17, 2024