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Sen. Shaheen: There's No Evidence of Illegal Voting in New Hampshire

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The White House’s Election Integrity Commission met in Manchester Tuesday to discuss voter fraud in New Hampshire.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen released a statement last week condemning President Trump's voting commission and talk of widespread voter fraud in last November’s elections.

NHPR’s Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley spoke with Shaheen on Tuesday by phone.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner invited everyone from the congressional delegation to the meeting this morning with Trump's voting commission. Why did you decide not to attend?

Well, because I have to be in Washington. We have hearings today in my committees and votes. And I did submit testimony, and I hope that they will allow my staff person to read it. I think the concern that I have is that these assertions that there were allegations of voter fraud have provided no evidence, zero evidence, to support them. And I think the real objective of this commission is to lay the foundation for voter suppression laws. That's what we're seeing in New Hampshire. And instead of doing that they ought to be encouraging Americans to vote. That's what makes our democracy strong.

Secretary of State Bill Gardner, in response to your call last week for him to step down from this commission, said he thought it was hypocritical to ask him to step away from a panel if you and Senator Hassan had never stepped away from a committee because you disagreed with the person leading it. Can you recall a time when you may have done that? When you've stepped away from a commission?

Well I don't think his comparison works. The fact is we're elected to serve the voters of New Hampshire and our position in the Senate. We serve on statutory committees that are acquired by law, that are bipartisan. This is a commission that has a clear partisan agenda and that's the concern that I have that it's real objective, as I said, is to try and raise issues when there aren't any. You know the fact is we've had a number of studies across the country over a period of time. The Justice Department did one between 2000 and 2014. And out of over a billion votes cast, they found only 31 allegations of voter fraud. Now I think we need to investigate those. We need to bring people to justice for that. But over a billion votes cast. So this is not something that's widespread. This is the president and others in his party who don't like the fact that he didn't win the popular vote, who are trying to cast doubt on votes that occurred. And again that's not what we ought to be doing. We ought to be trying to encourage Americans to get out and vote.

But do you think there's any merit in that line of thinking that, you know, the panel should at least, at the very least, be able to start looking into issues around voter fraud at all?

I don't because it's a trumped up allegation. There is no evidence. There is no evidence in New Hampshire that people voted illegally. And this suggestion that because people used out-of-state driver's licenses means that they were illegal voters doesn't recognize New Hampshire's election laws which allows people to use an out-of-state driver's license. Granite Staters who may be in the military, who are here from other states where they live permanently students, who are going to New Hampshire colleges. In federal elections they are allowed to vote in the community where they go to college. And the suggestion that we're going to prevent them from voting is just un-American.

And the Secretary of State and Department of Safety released that report last week on people who did use out of state IDs to vote in the last election. I know that Kris Kobach, the vice chairman of the Integrity Commission, cited that data in making his case for voter fraud in New Hampshire. What's your reaction to that report?

Well as I said New Hampshire law clearly states that residents can vote without a New Hampshire ID, including identification from other places. And you know, he has not gone back and looked at any of those people who voted that way to see what their situation was. If you look generically at where people were from, they tended to be from college towns. So they were probably students. But somebody can go look at that. But don't just make allegations that those were improper voters.

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