New election data from New Hampshire is raising new conservative claims of voter fraud. In a Breitbart column, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who’s leading President Donald Trump’s “election integrity” commission, argued that “facts have come to light that indicate that a pivotal, close election was likely changed through voter fraud” in New Hampshire.
But these claims are based on a major factual error that misrepresents state election law.
As New Hampshire Public Radio reported, the data shows more than 5,000 people who voted in the 2016 election registered to vote on Election Day with out-of-state IDs and did not get in-state IDs or register a vehicle in the state in the months after. According to Kobach, this is proof of voter fraud because, he claims, under New Hampshire law “a new resident has 60 days to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license.” Since these people didn’t obtain in-state IDs, the claim goes, they weren’t residents; they were people showing up from outside the state on Election Day to vote illegally.
If true, that would suggest that voter fraud may have played a big role in the elections last year in New Hampshire, where Democrat Maggie Hassan beat Republican Kelly Ayotte by 1,017 votes in the Senate race and Hillary Clinton beat Trump by 2,736 votes in the presidential race.
But Kobach is misinterpreting New Hampshire law. The state doesn’t necessarily require that someone become an official resident to register to vote. And, in fact, students — who make up majority of these voters with out-of-state IDs — are placed in a different category (“domiciled”) since they don’t plan to stay in the state long-term but do spend most of their time in New Hampshire while they’re in school. This category lets them vote without ever obtaining an in-state ID.
ProPublica reporter Jessica Huseman explained in a series of tweets:
In short, the claim that this new data is proof of voter fraud rests on a factual error and misinterpretation of New Hampshire law. Given that research studies have found time and time again that voter fraud is extremely rare to nonexistent, conservative media and Kobach’s claims simply don’t hold up to scrutiny.
For more on voter fraud and Trump’s “election integrity” commission, read Vox’s explainer.