Debunking Donald Trump's latest voter fraud claim about New Hampshire
Posted August 16, 2019 1:43 p.m. EDT
CNN — Before heading to New Hampshire on Thursday to speak at a 2020 reelection rally, President Donald Trump spun a conspiracy theory about his loss in the Granite State in 2020.
Here's what Trump told reporters:
"New Hampshire should have been won last time, except we had a lot of people come in at the last moment, which was a rather strange situation. Thousands and thousands of people, coming in from locations unknown. But I knew where their location was."
The President didn't elaborate or offer any evidence for the claim that New Hampshire was effectively stolen from him by outsiders pouring into the state to vote against him. But he did follow in a long line of arguments -- made by Trump loyalists -- that something fishy was going on in New Hampshire in 2016.
Kris Kobach, the head of Trump's short-lived election security commission, was perhaps the leading voice in the Granite State conspiracy theory, calling into question the legitimacy of the state's four Electoral College votes that went to Clinton.
Let's start with some facts, shall we? Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire over Trump in 2016 by a 47.6% to 47.2% margin. The actual vote total was very, very close. Clinton got 348,526 votes to Trump's 345,790 -- a difference of just 2,736 votes. (Libertarian Gary Johnson took almost 31,000 votes.) It was the second-closest margin -- Michigan was No. 1 -- in the country.
The heart of the conspiracy theory pushed by Trump, Kobach and some others is that more than 5,000 people voted in the New Hampshire general election who did not have in-state driver's licenses and had not obtained them as of the required 60 days after the election.
That fact -- plus the alleged sightings of "lots" of cars with Massachusetts license plates -- is proof positive in their minds, or at least enough for them to muddy the water, that there was clear vote fraud that cost Trump a Granite State win. (New Hampshire allows same-day voter registration, meaning you can register to vote and actually vote on the same day.)
Except, well, no.
First of all, a New Hampshire state Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that a person could legally cast a vote in the state even if they had a vehicle registered in another state or a driver's license from another state. (It's illegal, of course, to try to vote in two states.) That ruling primarily deals with college student who "domicile" (sleep and live) in the state for only a portion of the year before returning to their home states. An analysis of the 2016 vote by New Hampshire Public Radio showed that votes by people with New Hampshire driver's licenses were largely clumped in and around college towns.
Second, the New Hampshire Secretary of State's office has released a detailed breakdown of the state's 2016 vote -- and identified just 142 possible cases of voter fraud. (Of that group, about one-third were sent to the state attorney general's office for possible investigation. That's .00007% of the 725,093 ballots that were cast in the 2016 presidential race in New Hampshire.) Which, uh, isn't a lot -- and is more reflective of accidental voter error than any sort of widespread, organized voter fraud effort.
So this New Hampshire claim, like all of Trump's voter fraud conspiracies -- 3 to 5 million illegal votes were cast in 2016! -- collapses under even the most cursory review of the facts.
Unfortunately, for all of us, that won't stop Trump and his allies from saying it.