Published Date Written by Mike MortensenLACONIA — A former state representative is saying that he has uncovered local evidence of alleged voter fraud in last November's General Election.
Bob Kingsbury says that following the Nov. 6 election, he mailed a letter to each of the 1,395 people who registered at the Laconia polls on Election Day. Sixty of the letters were returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable, he said.
"That means they don't live here. They never lived here" and therefore were not eligible to vote in the city, Kingsbury said.
Kingsbury, who has run for office 18 times, but elected only once — to the state House in 2010 only to lose his bid for re-election last November — said he will turn over the names of those voters whose letters were returned to the City Clerk's office, the Belknap County Attorney, the Laconia Police Department and the state Secretary of State's office in Concord.
Kingsbury said that when the voter ID bill came up during his term in the Legislature, the bill's opponents maintained that voter fraud did not exist in New Hampshire. But Kingsbury says that given that 60 — or 4 percent — of those who registered on Election Day could not be contacted by mail less than four months after the election proves election fraud is real. Kingsbury says that he hopes the results of his mailing will encourage lawmakers who support stricter voter identification laws to work to get a bill passed.
"Anybody in the Legislature can have this proof that there is voter fraud," he said.
City Clerk Mary Reynolds said the fact that some of Kingsbury's letters were returned does not necessarily indicate vote fraud. "The address they give when then register is where (they) live on that day. They may have moved since," she said.
The letters which Kingsbury mailed out in hand-addressed envelopes in December and January asked the voters to support him if he runs for office in the future but his real goal not was not to attract supporters, it was simply to find out how many people don't really live where they say they live.
Reynolds explained that those registering at the polls are required to fill out a registration application and to verify their identity, citizenship or domicile. Those unable to provide some form of documentary proof, such as a photo ID, must fill out an affidavit indicating they are who they say they are and the polling place moderator is required to affirm that affidavit. Reynolds said that three days after last November's election Kingsbury requested a copy of each affidavit submitted on Election Day. But that request was denied when, after consulting with the Secretary of State's Office, it was determined the affidavits were not public information under the state's Right-to-Know law, she said.
Reynolds referred questions regarding the affidavits themselves to David Hough, the chairman of the Supervisors of the Checklist. Efforts to reach Hough for comment were not immediately successful.
Kingsbury also requested and was provided copies of the marked checklists from each of the city's six wards, for which he paid $125, Reynolds said.
In addition to mailing letters to the 1,395 voters who registered at the polls on Election Day, Kingsbury said that he mailed letters to another 2,700 unique addresses in the city where voters already registered are shown to be residing, based on checklist records. Out of those 2,700 letters, 115 were returned to Kingsbury as undeliverable, he said.
According to the City Clerk's Office, there are 9,674 registered voters in Laconia, of whom 7,681 voted in last November's election.
On Wednesday Reynolds said that she will turn over any information she gets from Kingsbury to the Supervisors of the Checklist, "who I am sure will be in contact with the (state) Attorney General's office for guidance on how proceed."
Assistant Attorney General Steve LaBonte said that his office investigates all formal complaints of election law violations. Complaints can even be filed on-line, through the state AG's website, he said. LaBonte said that if he is contacted by election officials in Laconia he would direct them to turn over whatever material they had and in addition he would likely also speak directly with Kingsbury, as the one initiating the complaint. "Once we receive a complaint we would open up an investigation," he said, noting that the investigation could take "a few months" to complete. He said that his office is already investigating a number of complaints arising out of the September primary and the November election.
When asked why he plans to provide the information he has gathered to Belknap County Attorney Melissa Countway Guldbrandsen, Kingsbury said that she could convene a grand jury to look into the allegations of voter fraud. As to the purpose of also giving his information to Laconia police, he said, "They're the ones who will have to arrest anyone who needs to be arrested."
Interestingly, state law requires the Secretary of State's office to mail a first-class letter to all election day registrants who did not present a photo ID at the polls instructing those voters to return written confirmation within 45 days that they registered and voted on Election Day. Names of those voters whose letters are returned as undeliverable or who fail to confirm their registration must be referred to the the Attorney General's Office for investigation and possible prosecution for vote fraud.
When told that the law already requires the Secretary of State to verify the authenticity same-day voter registrations and to refer any suspected cases to the AG, Kingsbury said prosecuting someone for vote fraud in New Hampshire is virtually unheard-of.
Sitting in the cramped front room of his Union Avenue apartment Tuesday, Kingsbury readily acknowledged that even if the 60 voters whose letter were returned had not been allowed to vote it would not have changed the outcome of the last November's election. "But many elections are won or lost by just a few votes," he said.
Asked whether it was worth it for him to spend the money — about $2,000 — for the copies of voter checklist, as well as for the postage and stationary, Kingsbury responded, "What I have done is to get it recorded that there is voter fraud" in the state, he said.