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Apparently, the Internet is never going to leave the 2016 presidential race behind.
A Sept. 8 post on the website Young Conservatives was headlined, "Mass Voter Fraud Just Discovered, to the Amount That Could Void Hillary’s Victory In New Hampshire." We learned about the post through a partnership between PolitiFact and Facebook to fact-check articles of questionable accuracy.
The article said, "Hillary Clinton blew an election she should’ve won with ease. In fact, the former secretary of state lost a rigged election in her favor to a man with zero experience holding political office. That’s how awful a candidate she was. Now, new reports of voter fraud are popping up. The numbers are so egregious, in fact, that Hillary’s New Hampshire victory might not even count anymore."
As evidence, the post cited a Washington Times article that said that in New Hampshire, "more than 80 percent of voters who registered on Nov. 8 using out-of-state driver’s licenses, or 5,313 of them, neither had a state license nor registered a motor vehicle almost 10 months later." That’s larger than the number of votes that separated Clinton and her opponent, Donald Trump. Clinton won the state over Trump by 2,732 votes.
The claim in the Young Conservatives post is effectively the same as a separate assertion we checked, by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Kobach, the vice chairman of the Presidential Commission on Election Integrity, said, "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." We rated that False.
David Rufful of Young Conservatives told PolitiFact that his site "provides conservative commentary on news reports originating from outside news sources. In this case, we are sourcing an article from The Washington Times and The Gateway Pundit. … A PolitiFact assessment of an article at Youngcons.com would seem to be misplaced as we aren't the original source."
However, the post was widely read -- when we looked, it had been shared nearly 55,000 times. So we’ll recap our evidence here.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a fellow member of the commission co-chaired by Kobach and launched by President Donald Trump, said that the facts laid out by Kobach don’t create proof for the accusation of voter fraud. He said Kobach had fudged the line between domicile and residency, which is crucial in understanding New Hampshire voting law.
A state Supreme Court decision has determined that a person can lawfully vote in New Hampshire while holding motor vehicle registration or a driver’s license in another state.
In other words, it’s not necessary for the 5,313 voters in question to have become residents in order for their votes to be valid.
That’s because eligible voters can be domiciled in the state without having to be residents — something Gardner acknowledged has caused confusion, even among polling officials. Domicile is defined as the place where a person sleeps, more than any other place, most nights of the year, or where they intend to return after a temporary time away.
"The basic difference between a ‘resident’ and a person who merely has a New Hampshire ‘domicile,’ is that a ‘resident’ has manifested an intent to remain in New Hampshire for the indefinite future, while a person who merely has a New Hampshire ‘domicile’ has not manifested the same intent," Gardner wrote.
Kobach said that residents must obtain a New Hampshire’s driver’s license or register a vehicle in the state 60 days after moving, but that’s limited to drivers of motor vehicles. As multiple articles pointed out, college students are typical examples of people who would drive in another state without establishing residency in New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Public Radio’s analysis of out-of-state IDs used to vote in November found that "the towns that see the highest rates of out-of-state IDs used at the polls are all home to college campuses."
Kobach was unconvinced.
"Being enrolled in a college does not free you from the legal obligation to become domiciled," Kobach said in his testimony. But that’s misleading, as becoming domiciled isn’t as complicated as he makes it sound.
A voter can prove domicile using a New Hampshire driver’s license, a vehicle registration in the state, or a non-driver ID or other government issued photo identification that lists a New Hampshire address.
But in some towns, providing a form issued by a New Hampshire college or university is sufficient to prove domicile. In Manchester, a voter can prove domicile by presenting a monthly bill, a medical bill, pay stubs showing a current address, or postmarked mail within the last 30 days. Other towns accept similar documentation.
Otherwise, voters can simply sign an affidavit attesting they live there. In the case of affidavits, the state mails a letter to the listed address and if undeliverable or ignored, the case gets forwarded to the attorney general’s office for review.
"The result is that yes, it is possible and legal for someone to drive into a polling place in a car with out-of-state tags, register to vote, and vote," Fergus Cullen, who ran the New Hampshire Republican Party from 2007-08, told PolitiFact in February. "Of course they have to sign affidavits and they would be risking significant legal penalties if they voted in more than one place or state. The odds of being caught are pretty high."
According to the New Hampshire Department of State and Department Safety, 196 people are being investigated as possibly having voted in New Hampshire and one other state — but even that isn’t proof that they did.
In the meantime, even if the votes had been were fraudulent -- and again, they were not -- the article’s use of the word "mass" is also questionable, since these votes accounted for well under 1 percent of the votes cast for president in the state.
The article also misleads when it says that these findings "could void" Clinton’s victory. There is no mechanism for changing election results once they have been certified by the state and electoral votes have been cast. "Once the electoral college votes are certified it's done," said Andrew Smith, a University of New Hampshire political scientist.
The Young Conservatives post was headlined, "Mass Voter Fraud Just Discovered, to the Amount That Could Void Hillary’s Victory In New Hampshire."
The article cited 5,313 votes cast with out-of-state IDs. However, under New Hampshire law, there is nothing fraudulent about them, as a person can lawfully vote in New Hampshire while holding motor vehicle registration or a driver’s license in another state. And even if those votes were somehow declared fraudulent, there would be no way to "void" Clinton’s four electoral votes in New Hampshire.
We rate this statement False.
Young Conservatives, "Mass Voter Fraud Just Discovered, to the Amount That Could Void Hillary’s Victory In New Hampshire," Sept. 8, 2017
Breitbart, Kobach: It Appears That Out-of-State Voters Changed the Outcome of the New Hampshire U.S. Senate Race, Sept. 7, 2017
Phone interview with Matthew Dunlap, Maine secretary of state, Sept. 14, 2017
WhiteHouse.gov, Speaker Receives Voter Registration Statistics Requested of Departments of State and Safety, accessed Aug. 14, 2017
PolitiFact, White House senior adviser repeats baseless claim about busing illegal voters in New Hampshire, Feb. 12, 2017
WMUR.com, Part 1: Election integrity commission meets at NHIOP, Sept. 12, 2017
WMUR.com, Part 2: Election integrity commission meets at NHIOP, Sept. 12, 2017
State of New Hampshire, Proof of voter identity documents, Sept. 1, 2015
State of New Hampshire, Letter, Sept. 6, 2017
New Hampshire Public Radio, Where Were Out-of-State IDs Used to Vote in New Hampshire Last November?, Feb. 14, 2017
New Hampshire Public Radio, How N.H. Tries to Guard Against 'Fraud' On Election Day, Feb. 13, 2017
ManchesterNH.gov, How to register, accessed Sept. 15, 2017
New Hampshire Public Radio, Despite Court Order, Controversy Over N.H. Voting Law Continues, Sept. 14, 2017
U.S. Election Atlas, New Hampshire presidential election results, 2016
PolitiFact, "Is there evidence of voter fraud in New Hampshire, as Kris Kobach said? Not really," Sept. 15, 2017
Email interview with Andrew Smith, University of New Hampshire political scientist, Sept. 15, 2017
Email interview with David Rufful, Young Conservatives, Sept. 15, 2017
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