Law & the Courts

Undercover Video Shows Why New Hampshire Needs Stronger Voter-ID Laws

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
Anyone can fill out a form, say he’s a resident, and cast a vote.

Guerrilla videographer James O’Keefe and his Project Veritas team have for years documented just how easy it is to commit voter fraud in states ranging from Minnesota to North Carolina. In 2012, his undercover exposés at the polls convinced the New Hampshire legislature to pass a bill mandating that voters show a government-issued ID — even college ID cards are acceptable. If voters have no form of ID, they can sign an affidavit and still have their vote counted. The votes needed to approve the bill over the objections of then-governor John Lynch were provided by his fellow Democrats.

This year’s presidential primaries were the first in which the ID law was fully in effect, so O’Keefe returned to New Hampshire to see how it was working out. He didn’t find the long lines and confusion predicted by liberal critics, but his undercover team found out just how easy it still is for non-residents to vote. He released a video documenting his findings.

The video shows poll workers advising Project Veritas journalists how to skirt the rules in order to vote as non-residents. Bernie Sanders campaign staffers are shown encouraging undercover journalists to claim false addresses in order to vote in the primary. (No matter how easy the undercover journalists found it would be to cast an illegal ballot, they stopped short of actually doing so.)

“The problem is that without identification and confirmation, someone could vote with a made-up name and address, and by the time the state found the fraud, the vote would have been long counted with no way to correct the wrong,” O’Keefe notes in his video. He demonstrates by showing a Nashua poll worker named Susan telling an undercover journalist posing as a non-voter to make up a story that “sounds like it’s true” so that she could qualify to vote.

“I’m not living here, I am just trying to vote here,” the undercover journalist asserts, saying she did not plan to remain in the state “indefinitely,” as required under New Hampshire law.

“If you want to vote today, you might want to tell them that you’re staying with a friend. And you’re here indefinitely, because it sounds like it’s true,” the poll worker advises.

“Okay, yeah. Not 100 percent true though,” the undercover journalist responds.

“Right, but you’re here indefinitely, and you’re staying at your friend’s house, and you’ll be about to vote,” Susan says. “Otherwise, I don’t know.”

Another undercover journalist working for O’Keefe tried to find out if out-of-state campaign workers for a candidate could get around the ID requirement. The journalist asks a Sanders campaign staffer named Peyor Gugal about claiming an address that isn’t her own so she can vote.

“You should,” Gugal replied.

“The only thing is like I don’t know what address to use,” the journalist says. “Oh, can I use yours?”

“You can if you want,” Gugal responds.

#share#In another case, Sanders staffer Donna Waterman did admit that using a false address could constitute voter fraud. But she emphasized how “incredibly easy” it was for out-of-state campaign workers to ignore the law.

“Like, I think in many ways New Hampshire is incredibly proud of their first-in-the-nation primary, and for that reason they make all of these really lax laws surrounding voting, so people can, like, take advantage of it,” Waterman tells the undercover journalist. 

“Why doesn’t just every volunteer, like, ever in the office, just . . . ,” the journalist interjects.

“I think they all have, honestly,” says Waterman. “And like, all of our paid canvassers have done it. It’s very, very easy.”

“It almost seems like . . . it’s better to have people from out of state. Because they can do that and it’s like more votes,” the journalist says.

“I don’t know the legality of it. Perhaps it’s voter fraud,” Waterman admits.

In another exchange, Mariel Brown-Fallon, a Sanders field organizer, suggests that, when filling out a voter-registration form, a Project Veritas journalist use the address of the office building in Manchester that the Sanders campaign is using.

“Ummm . . . could you say you’re staying at 345 Cilley Road?” Brown-Fallon says to the Project Veritas journalist. When O’Keefe then stepped forward to ask if Brown-Fallon was encouraging people from out of state to vote, she declined to answer by claiming she wasn’t authorized to speak to the media. Another Sanders staffer told O’Keefe to leave because he was on “private property.” He complied but noted the irony that the socialist Sanders had staffers who would so quickly assert their private-property rights.

Election officials couldn’t be counted on to uphold the law, in O’Keefe’s experience.

Election officials couldn’t be counted on to uphold the law, in O’Keefe’s experience. “When you come up here to work on a campaign, I think, you know, you’ve been working on a campaign and you want to vote. So I personally understand,” Barbara Ward, a registrar-at-large at Little Harbour School in Portsmouth, told one of O’Keefe’s journalists when she was handed an affidavit to sign because she lacked ID.

“Reading it, it looks like it’s more appropriate for me to vote in Weare,” says the Project Veritas Action journalist.

“It is. You know, if you feel comfortable doing this, it’s your call. I would say, you#…#’cause my feeling is I would never want to deny anyone the right to vote.”

“I can’t stop you. I won’t stop you. I would just . . . It’s your call,” she continued.

RELATED: Our Democratic Friends Seem to Be Having a Bit of Trouble with this ‘Democracy’ Thing

Another election official in Hanover told a PVA journalist posing as an out-of-state campaign worker that his residency status “isn’t really our business. . . . He’s just going to attest that that’s where he lives today to be able to vote.”

GOP state representative Bill O’Brien, who was the speaker of New Hampshire’s house when the voter-ID bill passed in 2012, is appalled by just how porous its enforcement was in this year’s primary. “It’s an embarrassment this should happen in a state that is accorded the right to the first primary,” he told me. “More of this and people from outside the state will start to question that status, which would be very sad.”

O’Brien points out that the state constitution clearly says that the right to vote in New Hampshire is connected to someone’s actually living in the state. “But the local courts have basically reinterpreted that to mean you have a state of mind that you intend to live in New Hampshire and that should be enough to allow you to vote.” Even so, he says that some of the activities seen in O’Keefe’s video are clearly fraudulent. “We once had 50 voters use the administrative office of a local college as their legal address in New Hampshire,” he recounted. “They were clearly out-of-state campaign workers voting.”

RELATED: The Rest of the World Requires Voter ID, but George Soros and Hillary Clinton Are Determined the U.S. Won’t

In 2012, O’Keefe’s original sting operation at New Hampshire polling places involved dead voters. He and his assistants asked poll workers whether their books listed the names of several voters, all deceased individuals still listed on voter-registration rolls. Poll workers handed out ten ballots, never once asking for a photo ID. The only precinct in which O’Keefe or his crew did not obtain a ballot was one in which the local precinct officer had personally known the dead “voter.”

Later in 2012, in Washington, D.C., one of O’Keefe’s assistants was able to obtain the ballot of then–attorney general Eric Holder, even though Holder was then 62 years old and bore no resemblance to the 22-year-old white man who obtained it merely by asking if Eric Holder was on the rolls.

RELATED: Just in Time for 2016, Hillary Clinton Aims to Dismantle Voter ID, Expand Early Voting

But Holder’s Department of Justice dismissed the Holder-ballot incident as “manufactured.” The irony was lost on the DOJ that Holder, a staunch opponent of voter-ID laws, himself could have been disenfranchised by a white man because Washington, D.C., has no voter-ID law. Polls consistently show that more than 70 percent of Americans — including clear majorities of African-Americans and Hispanics — support such laws.

But, as New Hampshire demonstrates, even when a state passes voter-integrity laws that require an ID, they can come with loopholes big enough to haul a bushel full of questionable votes through. O’Keefe’s video clearly shows that New Hampshire needs to go back to the drawing board and pass a new law tightening the voter-ID requirement and reasserting its state constitutional requirement that someone should be living in New Hampshire to vote in that state. “Election tourism,” which the Live Free or Die state is famous for, is fine, but it shouldn’t come with voting privileges.

— John Fund is National Review Online’s national-affairs correspondent.


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