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New Hampshire officials shred Trump's voter-fraud conspiracy theory

Trump and his team insisted that an elaborate voter-fraud scheme cost him a win in New Hampshire in 2016. Reality tells a different story.
A voter steps into a voting booth to mark his ballot at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H. (Photo by David Goldman/AP)
A voter steps into a voting booth to mark his ballot at a polling site for the New Hampshire primary, Feb. 9, 2016, in Nashua, N.H.

Just weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump met with a group of senators to discuss Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination. As regular readers may recall, the president, for reasons that weren't altogether clear, insisted at the meeting that he would've won New Hampshire had it not been for widespread voter fraud.

According to a Politico  report, after Trump insisted illegal votes were cast by people "brought in on buses," there was "an uncomfortable silence" in the room.

A year later, in February 2018, the president spoke at a Republican National Committee dinner, and again claimed that the only reason he narrowly lost New Hampshire in 2016 was voter fraud.

Given his intense and ongoing interest in the subject, someone probably ought to alert him to this report from WMUR.

An exhaustive review by state election officials, including a first-time comparison of voter information shared with 27 other states, has turned up virtually no evidence of possible voter fraud in New Hampshire, those officials said Tuesday.Secretary of State William Gardner, other officials from his office and a top election law attorney from the attorney general's office made a more than two-hour presentation to the state Ballot Law Commission, which is charged with resolving disputes related to election laws. The review consumed 817 work hours by members of the attorney general's office with help from the Department of Safety.

The review process was actually pretty interesting. New Hampshire officials started with the highly dubious Crosscheck system, which pointed to more than 94,000 possible examples of people casting more than one ballot. Secretary of State Bill Gardner was able to quickly narrow that list down to 4,579. After accounting for middle names and initials, the list shrunk again to 3,624.

Using a variety of related methods, the state continued to gradually narrow the list from 955 to 142 to 91 to five. Does that mean New Hampshire found five real-world examples of actual voter fraud?

Not exactly. As Slate's Mark Joseph Stern explained, "One college student voted in the wrong location on the faulty instruction of an election official. An elderly woman appears to have filled out her recently deceased husband's absentee ballot. Two people cast a ballot in Dixville Notch's famous midnight primary without establishing domicile there. Just one person actually voted twice; he was fined $2,500 and threatened with criminal prosecution if he ever did it again."

That's it. That's all the evidence showed.

The point isn't that the results are surprising. They were actually quite predictable. Rather, the point is that Trump and his team peddled a ridiculous conspiracy theory and not only expected the public to believe it, but also hoped their bogus claims could help create a demand for new voting restrictions across the country.

Indeed, it wasn't just Trump. Stephen Miller appeared on ABC News last year and insisted, "I have actually, having worked before on a campaign in New Hampshire, I can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who's worked in New Hampshire politics. It's very real. It's very serious."

It's also very imaginary. The White House's apology will be issued any day now, right?