The New Hampshire Democratic Party is asking the state to pursue a “full investigation” into a recent batch of erroneous absentee voter registration mailers sent by the New Hampshire Republican Party.
In a letter to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office sent Monday, the state Democrats’ attorney Bill Christie described the state’s initial response to the Republican mailings as “inadequate for numerous reasons.” For one, Christie said, the state should not take the Republican party’s statement that the mailers were the result of a “printing mistake” at face value.
“The Attorney General’s Office or its designee should obtain all relevant documents and information regarding the mailer from both the Republican State Committee and its mail vendor,” the Democrats' letter reads, “in order to determine, among other things, how and why Durham was selected as the sole addressee on the return postcard and the scope of the burden imposed on the absentee voter registration process.”
The mailers were billed as an “official absentee voter registration packet request” from the New Hampshire Republican Party,” but included incorrect return addresses routing back to Durham. The mailers also appear to have been sent to a number of deceased people, including those who never lived or voted in New Hampshire, according to recipients of the mailers who confirmed as much to NHPR.
The Democrats’ letter to the state focuses largely on the return address routing the mailer back to Durham. The college town, home of the University of New Hampshire, has among the highest number of new voter registrations in a given election cycle and has long been central to Democrats’ turnout efforts due its concentration of student voters.
Christie, in his letter to the Attorney General’s office, said the Democratic party is concerned that the Republican’s mailer will impose a burden on local election officials in Durham. State officials have said they’re working with Durham to “to ensure the appropriate town or city clerks are notified if a voter has submitted this postcard to request an absentee voter registration package.”
The Democratic party says Durham should not have to take on the added labor of correcting a problem caused by the Republican party’s mailers.
“The State — not Durham officials — must take appropriate efforts to take responsibility for informing other town and city clerks when the postcards are received and not leave this administrative burden to Durham,” Christie wrote. “We request that the State take appropriate action to mitigate this interference with the Election.”
The Democrats also requested that Attorney General Gordon MacDonald recuse himself from any investigation into the Republicans’ mailers due to his past involvement in party matters.
NHPR has reached out to the Republican party multiple times with specific questions about the mailers and to ask about the Democrats’ call for an investigation. The party declined to provide any on-the-record comments, after an initial response over the weekend. Neither Christie nor the Democratic party offered on-the-record comments about their letter, but did confirm its validity.
The New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office confirmed that they received Christie’s letter but said they could not comment further while they were reviewing the situation.
The letterhead on which the Democrats made their request for an investigation came from a law firm founded by the husband of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is on the ballot this fall. Christie, who wrote the letter, is also connected to another Democratic candidate on the ballot in the upcoming state primary. His wife, Cinde Warmington, is running for Executive Council.
Asked to explain the distinction, in their view, between those connections and the one at play for MacDonald, Democratic party spokeswoman Holly Shulman wrote in an email, “The Attorney General is tasked with representing the state - not a political party, to be an impartial overseer of New Hampshire's elections, and a fair adjudicator of all issues that cross his or her desk."