Party flap hardly voter fraud case
To hear New Hampshire Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn tell it, Democrats are trying to steal elections in the state.
Horn recently wrote state Attorney General Joe Foster, asking him to investigate media reports that state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth, allowed four Democratic campaign workers to live at her house and use her address to register to vote in the 2012 elections. The Republican Party head accused Fuller Clark of creating “a sanctuary for voter fraud.“
Horn claims Fuller Clark, the vice chairman of the state’s Democratic Party, knew the workers were in the state only temporarily and would be leaving shortly after the election to assume political jobs in other states, which they did.
Fuller Clark told WMUR that she had “no idea” how long the political operatives intended to remain in the state. We don’t think Fuller Clark is a mind-reader, but we don’t buy that answer, either. We think it’s likely that she knew full well that most, if not all, of the workers would be leaving the state within weeks of the election. To ask voters to believe otherwise does them a disservice.
In letters she wrote about the matter to Fuller Clark and the attorney general, Horn called the voting “illegal” and “improper.”
Well, there is a difference.
Horn said Fuller Clark allowed the workers to “parachute” into New Hampshire and was complicit in what she called “illegal drive-through voting.”
Horn deserves credit for colorful imagery, perhaps, but not much else. The fact is, this sort of thing happens all the time, and there’s nothing illegal about it, though whether it should be is open to debate.
State election law allows someone to vote if they establish a “domicile” in the state before the election, but there’s no minimum residency requirement and University of New Hampshire law professor John Greabe told the Concord Monitor that “domicile” is an “inherently mushy and highly subjective standard.”
Horn is just trying to score political points when she claims that the Democratic campaign workers “improperly influenced New Hampshire elections and canceled out the votes of actual Granite Staters.”
Actually, it’s more likely that they canceled out the votes of Republican campaign workers who did pretty much the same thing. The state Democratic Party website notes that campaign workers for Republican presidential nominee Gov. Mitt Romney also voted in the last election, even though they had out-of-state mailing addresses.
Horn also asked Fuller Clark to remove the names of the workers from the Portsmouth voter rolls. “If you fail to take action the New Hampshire Republican State Committee is prepared to take any appropriate action under the law including bringing it to the attention of the Superior Court.”
As if the state’s court system doesn’t have enough of a backlog without being further clogged up with lawsuits based on actions practiced, if not condoned, by both political parties.
This is a classic case of political grandstanding and a matter best left to the Legislature. If state lawmakers think they can craft something that narrowly addresses the issues raised by these claims and counterclaims, they should have at it.
But it shouldn’t be used to bootstrap passage of the sort of voter laws that Republicans across the country have sought to get passed – laws that impede the voting rights of minorities because Republicans see as more likely to vote for the other party.
Because that’s how elections really get stolen.