Fellow members of a presidential commission on election integrity pushed back against Republican Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach’s argument that out-of-state voters may have swayed the outcome of a Senate election in New Hampshire.
In a recent Breitbart column, Kobach said “it appears” voter fraud likely changed the outcome of the close race in November 2016. At a meeting of the election panel Tuesday in New Hampshire, Kobach said he might have chosen the wrong word.
“In that column I struggled with what verb to use. I said ‘it appears’ non-residents may have tipped the result. I’m still wondering if that was the right word,” Kobach said.
However, Kobach said there’s still uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the election and more than 5,000 votes cast by people who registered with an out-of-state driver’s license.
“Until further research is done … we will never know the answer regarding the legitimacy of that particular election,” Kobach said.
Democratic New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner contested that assessment.
“The problem that has occurred because of what you wrote is the question of whether our election, as we have recorded it, is real and valid” Gardner said. “And it is real and valid.”
In New Hampshire, someone can be domiciled in the state and legally vote without being a resident or possessing a state driver’s license.
Gardner said people could live in New Hampshire, such as college students, and vote legally with an out-of-state license.
Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, another Democrat on the election panel, said Kobach’s argument about potential voter fraud is a stretch.
“Making this equation that somehow people not updating their driver’s license is an indicator of voter fraud would be almost as absurd as saying if you have cash in your wallet, that’s proof that you robbed a bank,” Dunlap said. “I think it’s a reckless statement to make.”
Tuesday was the second meeting of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Kobach serves as vice chairman of the 12-member commission.
Stephen Koranda is Statehouse reporter for Kansas Public Radio, a partner in the Kansas News Service. Follow him on Twitter @kprkoranda.