AT A MEETING of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity on Tuesday, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner dismissed assertions by commission vice chair Kris Kobach that widespread voter fraud influenced the state’s 2016 presidential and senate races.
“The problem that has occurred because of what you wrote is that – the question of whether our election – as we have recorded it – is real and valid. And it is. It is real and valid,” Gardner said in response to Kobach. Kobach, for his part, did not back down. “Until further research is done […] we will never know the answer regarding the legitimacy of this particular election,” said Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state. He raised similar doubts when confronted by a protester after the meeting, though with less certainty than in his initial article for the Breitbart website.
Many others in the Granite State have joined in bipartisan condemnation of the suggestion that New Hampshire’s elections are tainted.
Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, the alleged origin of the busloads of fraudulent voters, former leaders of both the Democratic and Republican parties are confounded by the controversy. Jay Cincotti, executive director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party during the 2016 election, dismissed it outright. “It’s a joke,” said Cincotti “The notion that there is large-scale election fraud or election tampering organized by the Massachusetts Democratic Party is a complete fiction.”
Jennifer Nassour was chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party from 2009 to 2011, and remains active in the state GOP. She says she’s never heard anything in GOP circles that would support Kobach’s allegations. “I have never once heard anything that even sounded like that. It wasn’t even anything that anyone talked about. Even in Republican circles, no one was talking about this. During the election, no one was talking about this. Even after the election, in the circles I frequent, no one was talking about this.”
Nassour added that she never heard from Republican National Committee to be on the lookout for such activity during the years she chaired the state party. The current spokesman for the Massachusetts Republican party did not respond to requests for comment.
Cincotti points out another problem with Kobach’s theory: it would not be a very good strategy. “If we think about this in a very sort of practical, pragmatic way, if I’ve got 200 people who are willing to come up, I’m going to have them knocking on doors. I’m going to have them making phone calls. Why am I going to waste my time having them register to vote?”
Cincotti also described what the difficulties would be of getting thousands of fraudulent voters through the registration and voting process undetected.
Besides, Nassour noted, folks have plenty to do south of the border. “I would say that the Democrats I know in Massachusetts that are involved in party politics in Massachusetts on Election Day are very busy in Massachusetts. I am not saying there is no way, I have just never heard of it. And it was never a priority and not something we ever focused on, or anything we were ever asked about.”
Nassour’s outright dismissal of the story echoes what many in the New Hampshire GOP have said. Fergus Cullen, former head of the New Hampshire Republican Party said the claim of fraudulent voters from Massachusetts has been made in many elections. “But it is completely baseless, completely false,” he said. He has even offered a $1,000 reward to anyone who can prove otherwise.
Despite the lack of proof, Cincotti, the former executive director of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, said it’s doubtful the claims of fraud will dissipate. “Unfortunately, the times in which we find ourselves today, people who are inclined not to believe anything I say because I was ED are not going to believe me. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s just not true,” he said. “People are going to believe what they want to believe, facts be damned.”
Steve Koczela is the president and Richard Parr is the research director of The MassINC Polling Group, which is owned by MassINC, the publisher of CommonWealth.