Kris Kobach is at it again, claiming he’s found “proof” of large scale voter fraud.
He hasn’t. And he’s doing something particularly sneaky that’s worth explaining.
Kobach (pictured), who runs the White House’s voting commission, on Thursday used his Breitbart column (yes, the man who leads a White House commission on voting writes a column for Breitbart — welcome to 2017) to raise the alarm about new voting numbers. The piece bears the shocking headline: “It Appears That Out-Of-State Voters Changed the Outcome of the New Hampshire Senate Race.” (That race was won by Democrat Maggie Hasan just over 1000 votes.)
The column comes as the White House voting commission is set to hold its second sit-down meeting Tuesday in New Hampshire, where it will focus on voters’ confidence in the process.
The new numbers at issue were obtained from election officials by New Hampshire’s Republican House leader, Shawn Jasper, who released them. They show that 5,313 people used same-day voter registration in New Hampshire last year while using an out-of-state driver’s license to prove their identity, and by last week still hadn’t gotten a New Hampshire driver’s license or registered a vehicle. New Hampshire residents have 60 days to obtain a license or register a vehicle.
As a result, writes Kobach, these 5,313 voters “have not followed the legal requirements for residents regarding driver’s licenses, and it appears that they are not actually residing in New Hampshire. It seems that they never were bona fide residents of the State.”
Kobach called this “proof” of something that New Hampshire conservatives have long claimed: “that out-of-staters take advantage of New Hampshire’s same-day registration and head to the Granite State to cast fraudulent votes.”
Indeed, it was this claim that served as the prime rationale for a strict new state law that requires same-day registrants to show proof of where they live or risk a $5000 fine.
But here’s what Kobach doesn’t tell his readers:
Since the 1970s, New Hampshire law has made a distinction between “residents” and people “domiciled” in the state. To obtain a driver’s license, you must meet the definition of residency, which these 5,313 votes appear not to have done. But the courts have been clear that to vote in New Hampshire, you only need to be “domiciled” there, which means living there at that time.
Backers of restrictive voting laws have often tried to muddy up this distinction, just as Kobach does in his column. In 2011, they passed a law requiring people registering to vote to sign an affidavit saying they were subject to the state’s residency requirements. New Hampshire’s Supreme Court struck it down in 2014, affirming that the state can’t require voters to be subject to the residency requirements that govern driver’s licenses and auto registration.
You can read more about the ongoing efforts in New Hampshire to suppress same-day voter registration, which is especially popular among college students, in a new feature story I wrote for The Baffer.
It’s not clear whether Kobach is unaware of all this, or just doesn’t care. But it’s the latest piece of evidence that he’ll use any tool at hand, no matter how flawed, to further his campaign to make voting harder.