Voter Fraud Is Like Arson; It Doesn’t Go Away Because You Don’t Prosecute It
I spent an embarrassing morning in Concord today listening to one of our esteemed Assistant AG’s, “Bud” Fitch, explain the Federal Help America Vote Act, HAVA, to the House Election Law Committee. Because of the slide show I was allowed to sit at the Big Boy Table with the State Representatives.
A handful of them are really trying to get same-day voter registration in NH under control. They are to be commended. Several are shameless promoters of non-resident voting so any mention by Fitch that it is proper for non-residents to vote in NH is a welcome endorsement of their cause, and he gave it to them.
Fitch mentioned no case law but said he reviewed several cases about college students being allowed to vote where they went to school. The NH ACLU did the same at hearings I was at in the past and they offered no case law either. It looks like whistling past the graveyard to me.
I can read, and all the case law I look at, where there is any on point, always comes back to intent of the voter. And there is the little problem with competing Constitutional protections such as my right to vote as a NH citizen being just as important as that of a college student’s obligation to vote where he or she is “domiciled.”
Here is the Fitch argument for settled law regarding college voters: They can vote here in national elections if they are domiciled here “in their minds”. It’s that simple-minded.
Of course you have to ignore the fact that only US citizens have a right to vote in NH and only in the municipality in which they are domiciled, in other words, their home. This is because election officials are responsible for the voters in their town and they follow state law for national elections. Your local officials keep track of who votes otherwise we have mayhem like when thousands of out-of-state tuition college students register same-day to vote in national elections using out-of-state drivers licenses for identification. Those thousands of non-resident students then stay on the checklists for up to ten years.
Two years ago the universities in NH almost blew a collective blood vessel when we tried to pass legislation to make non-resident voters residents once they vote here. It seems they covet the students' votes as much as mom and dad’s millions in out-of-state tuition money. Isn’t that like taking their cake and our cake and eating it too?
Now you also have thousands of voters who will not be on jury duty lists because the Dept. of Safety list of citizens with NH driver’s licenses is how we pick juries here due to a change about a dozen years ago to selecting strictly from voter lists. All NH citizens who have attained the age of 18 are required to serve on a jury. Non-resident voters do not. If they are not serving someone else has to. Even if they did wind up on a jury, what lawyer would pass up the opportunity to appeal any decision which included a jurist or two from another state?
We have had in NH, college students vote in their college town then write to the supervisor of the checklist to have their name taken off the voter list a few weeks later. If you lived in Durham in 2000 your vote was negated by such non-resident students. Again in 2002 Durham saw UNH students who voted in November of that year and who were arrested the following spring during sports riots show identification from other states. Bud Fitch failed to prosecute anyone because of his lax and ever-evolving interpretation of domicile based on what is in the student’s mind.
In 2004 Assistant AG Fitch came up with a clever new interpretation of the laws regarding “challenging” a suspected non-resident or unqualified voter. He noted that any voter without ID (or ID they prefer not to show?) could sign an affidavit of residency as allowed by NH election law.
Two problems with this: One is that he decided that the potential voter could simply go ahead of time and get any Notary or Justice of the Peace to witness the affidavit and not do it at the polling place which negates any ability a NH citizen has of determining, thereby challenging, if the affidavit was genuine because it was done off site. It is settled law that a person’s right to challenge is equal to his right to vote because that is what protects that vote. Every NH voter has the right to challenge another voter but starting this year it just got harder if you are challenging a person with no ID they can show because of the new Fitch interpretation. Once again Bud comes down on the side of non-resident voters.
Second is the amusing incident in Keene last November regarding Bud Fitch and State Representative Chuck Weed who was involved with what he calls “transitional” voters using phony affidavits to register same-day in that college town where this noxious Weed is purported to be an educator. Weed’s fellow Democrats were handing out false information to potential “transitional” voters stating that they did not have to abide by vehicle registration laws if they voted in NH. It is hard to imagine he has so much free time from this State University to spend at the legislature. In any case Fitch declined to take any action against Weed or the Democrat Party. It’s that old fuzzy interpretation thing again. Weed sits on the Election Law Committee we are talking about just in case I didn’t mention it. (I consider a party representative handing voters false legal advice as much of a prank as phone jamming but I guess it’s all in the eye of the prosecutor.)
So today Fitch has changed his tune to some new “college students can vote wherever they want because they have more rights than you and I” argument of settled law he did not care to name – yet. I will be asking for that information so stay tuned for a follow-up article.
Ed Naile, Chair
Coalition of NH Taxpayers