James O’Keefe’s latest video features surrogates appearing to commit voter fraud in yesterday’s New Hampshire primary election, all in an attempt to highlight voter fraud, a problem which is by-and-large nonexistent in the Granite State.
The undercover video shows unnamed individuals working at O’Keefe’s behest approaching polling stations throughout New Hampshire. After poll workers asked for the person’s name, O’Keefe’s agents gave the name of a voter who died within the past few weeks, before then receiving a ballot to vote. The individuals asked the poll workers if they needed ID to prove their identity, and when poll workers confirmed that they did not, O’Keefe’s men insisted on returning to their car to retrieve their ID and returned the ballot.
However, in highlighting the non-problem of voter fraud in New Hampshire and elsewhere, O’Keefe’s agents appear to have committed voter fraud themselves. Section 659:34 of the New Hampshire code defines voter fraud as when a person (highlights are ours):
(a) When registering to vote; when obtaining an official ballot; or when casting a vote by official ballot, makes a false material statement regarding his or her qualifications as a voter to an election officer or submits a voter registration form, and election day registration affidavit, a qualified voter affidavit, a domicile affidavit, or an absentee registration affidavit containing false material information regarding his or her qualifications as a voter;
(b) Votes more than once for any office or measure;(c) Applies for a ballot in a name other than his or her own;(d) Applies for a ballot in his or her own name after he or she has voted once;(e) Votes for any office or measure at an election if such person is not qualified to vote as provided in RSA 654; or(f) Gives a false name or answer if under examination as to his or her qualifications as a voter before the supervisors of the checklist or moderator.
In the raw footage released by O’Keefe (reproduced below), at 12:32, the poll worker asks the unnamed individual, “what’s your name again?” The man replies with the name of a dead New Hampshire voter, “Thomas McCarron.” She then asks if he lives at “179 Harrison Street?” The man affirms, “yes.”
In another instance, at 5:00, the poll worker checks off the individual’s fake name and says, “that’s you.” He does not correct her, but implicitly affirms the false identity by taking the ballot she hands him.
In addition, O’Keefe’s group may have run afoul of New Hampshire’s law against hidden recording devices. Granite State law requires both parties to consent when recording devices are used, a fact that even O’Keefe’s own website notes. However, the video gives no indication that poll workers were aware they were being filmed.
One section of footage not released by O’Keefe, however, was when a surrogate was caught at the polls trying to impersonate a dead voter. The Boston Herald notes that the man “disappeared before police could corral him.”
Setting aside the legality of O’Keefe’s stunt, it is important to note that virtually no one — outside of O’Keefe’s agents — actually commits voter fraud. A seminal Brennan Center study on the matter, entitled “The Truth About Voter Fraud”, found that people were far more likely to be stuck by lightning than ever impersonate another voter at the polls. The study examined possible voter fraud in New Hampshire during the 2004 election, but was unable to find evidence for anything close to widespread fraud. Even if four questionable incidences proved true — one involved a “domestic violence victim, who voted from an old address in order to avoid disclosing her current domicile — it would amount to an overall fraud rate of 0.0006%.