By RICK GREEN, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Two local men appeared on a panel of Donald Trump supporters in a CNN show that aired Thursday, making claims of voter fraud, but they quickly qualified their remarks and backed off further on Friday.
President Donald Trump has said, without providing evidence, that more than 3 million people voted illegally in the 2016 election.
Joshua Youssef, who lives across from the polling place at Sacred Heart Parish Hall in Laconia, said on CNN’s “New Day,” that he saw two or three vehicles with out-of-state plates that seemed to be full of people getting ready to vote, but noted he had no proof of fraud.
On Friday, Youssef said he never reported what he saw to authorities, but that the incident “raised my eyebrows.”
“It wouldn’t justify a complaint,” he said. “The law is the law, and you can have a car load of voters that may have rented a van and all live at the University of New Hampshire.
“Is it possible that they voted legally? Yes. Is it possible they voted illegally? Yes. What are the margins of probability? I have no idea.”
Youssef, a former state Senate candidate, said his main point is that although he favors small government, he feels voter identification laws need to be tightened.
“The government should issue a voter identification to all citizens and conduct the vetting,” he said. “There needs to be a structure, so we’re not vetting people at the polling locations.”
Billy Baer of Gilford, who also appeared on the CNN show, talked on the air about buses carrying fraudulent voters, but then added he saw the buses on television.
In an interview Friday, he said the TV reports he saw took place in 2012.
“In this election, in person, I didn’t see anything that I would say was necessarily voter fraud,” he said.
But he said there’s no question that such fraud occurs.
“It is self-evident that there was serious voter fraud going on in this country,” he said.
In order to vote in New Hampshire, one must be a resident of the state, at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen. A driver’s license issued by any state is one form of acceptable identification to vote. Those without a photo ID, and not known to election workers, can still vote by filing an affidavit attesting to their identity.
Laconia City Manager Scott Myers said voting is handled efficiently and largely without complaint.
“We’re very confident in the voting procedures we have in place in Laconia,” he said. “For those who have concerns, there’s certainly the opportunity to register those concerns locally or at the state level.
“Our elected officials and volunteers at the polls take training very seriously. We have very good people in place, and work to ensure fair and open elections.”
New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner said that in the 2016 presidential election, 755,000 people voted in New Hampshire. There has been one proven case of fraudulent voting.
In Laconia, more than 8,000 people voted. A total of 23 showed an out-of-state driver’s license to register to vote in the city.
“I don’t have any proof that voter fraud is widespread,” Gardner said.
He has complained in the past that same-day voter registration rules in New Hampshire can lead to “drive-by” voting, in which a person from another state casts a ballot in New Hampshire and then leaves the state.