Shaprton interviewed Paul Bergeron, the city clerk of Nashua, N.H., repeatedly states that voter fraud isn’t a problem in New Hampshire, but his own words to New Hampshire newspapers over the years suggest the opposite. (The one instance that Bergeron was likely referring to is the case of Mark Lacasse, a 17-year-old from Londonderry who illegally used his father’s name to vote in the Democratic primary. Lacasse got caught when he bragged about it in school.)
Bergeron has also attacked James O’Keefe and the Project Veritas in the local press:
“This is serious; we won’t tolerate voter fraud, regardless of what the intent might be.”
“If these are New Hampshire residents they should lose their right to vote forever, in addition to fines or imprisonment. I take it seriously, and people shouldn’t dismiss this as just a harmless stunt; it’s not,” Bergeron said.
In 1999, “a Nashua man voted in one ward and then traveled to another ward and asked for a ballot using another’s name,” Bergeron told The Union Leader. Bergeron notes that the man wasn’t charged because his intent wasn’t to harm the electoral process, something that may portend well for O’Keefe should it ever go to trial.
In Plymouth, a Tilton man pled guilty to misdemeanor voter fraud and was fined $800, according to Bergeron.
In 2004, Bergeron told The Union Leader that he occasionally catches Massachusetts residents using mailbox addresses to avoid higher car taxes and accidentally registering to vote.
“Most of the time, we find it’s just an honest mistake,” he told the Union Leader. “We would send a letter to that address, telling them they need to update their voter registration address and provide us with the actual residence. If they fail to do that, we would bring that information to the board of registrars the next time they hold a meeting, and request those names not be put on the checklist.”
Given how easily Bergeron caught address fraud in Massachusetts, it seems that Bergeron is upset that he was caught not doing his job of purging the voter lists. Bergeron, as of 2006, was paid $72,000 a year, making him the second highest paid city official in New Hampshire. (Bergeron was also once a Democratic candidate for public office in 1994.)
In New Hampshire, state election laws allow voters to register to vote on the same day. When you register to vote in New Hampshire, you first have to prove your identity and age with a photo ID. But while you are asked to present proof that you live in a particular place and are a citizen, you can sign an affidavit swearing to that if you don’t have the proper documentation.
But there’s a catch: these signatures are never checked, making it quite easy to commit fraud. Says Fred Teebom, a former alderman and candidate for mayor who told the Union Leader, “there’s nobody checking these affidavits… they’re just open invitation to fraud.”
Bergeron supports same-day registration. One election year, Nashua registered over 3900 new voters in just one day. There were anecdotal reports of voters being bussed in from local states. In Nashua, you can use an out of state voter I.D. when you register to vote and even just citizenship documents. (Mark Hayward, “Thousands in NH Register, Vote at Same Time; Inquiry Reveals Some Weak Leaks in Six-Year-Old System,” The Union Leader, December 13, 2000).
Bergeron wants to make that even easier. He recently told The Nashua Telegraph that he supported legislation that would have allowed proof of identification other than a valid driver’s license or federal ID.
Bergeron also contends that O’Keefe violated the law in three separate occasions: “giving a false name to a voter checklist worker, identity fraud and wiretapping for the recording of people without permission.”
Bergeron is not a lawyer so these accusations should be taken with a grain of salt, but he also gets a lot wrong. O’Keefe’s associates merely stated a name. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public polling place–which is why television reporters can videotape inside that polling place–without waivers.
Bergeron also claims that once a month his staff confirms the deaths of Nashua voters, but the fact that O’Keefe’s associates could obtain a ballot for Nashua voters Reynold Caron (deceased October 14 2011) and Joseph Boucher (deceased November 26, 2011) shows that his system is faulty.
A better system would make it so that when a death certificate is issued it should immediately go to the voter registry and be put online so that New Hampshire voters can update the registry themselves, if someone were to pass away in neighboring states.
As for voter fraud having no effect, Nashua’s ward elections, which took place in November, were decided by just three votes, putting the lie to that claim. O’Keefe’s associates were able to obtain ballots everywhere they tried to in Nashua. Perhaps the attorney general of New Hampshire should investigate how Paul Bergeron conducts elections in Nashua, instead of trying to monitor watchdog groups.