CONCORD – House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following a report that Orville “Bud” Fitch has been tapped by Secretary of State Bill Gardner to fill a newly created position within the Department of State that will review and investigate election integrity issues in New Hampshire.

“There is no one more qualified for this role,” said Hinch. “Bud is brilliant, fair, and well respected in the legal and government communities in New Hampshire. His knowledge of our state’s election laws and his deep connections with municipal and election officials will help assure us all that these investigations are in highly capable hands.”

“Election integrity is vital to our democracy and we have a good amount of data to suggest we need to do a better job making sure our elections are fair and clean. We passed legislation and approved funding to enhance our state’s ability to look into these matters, and Secretary Gardner has met our high expectations by seeking out Bud’s talents to carry out this mission.”

Background:

HB 552, sponsored by Deputy House Majority Whip Bill Ohm (R-Nashua), requires the secretary of state to conduct an inquiry regarding a letter of identity verification or driver’s obligation if the letter is returned as undeliverable or if the recipient fails to respond.  This bill also requires the secretary of state to investigate matches resulting from interstate comparisons of voter information. The bill was signed by Governor Sununu on July 10, 2017. The state budget established a new investigator position to enforce election laws within the Department of State.

In September of this year, New Hampshire House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) received a response to an inquiry of the NH Department of State and Department Safety.The inquiry, sent August 16, 2017, sought statistical information on the efforts of both departments to match voter checklist information with records of the Department of Safety. Speaker Jasper sought the information to benefit the legislature in its assessment of the effectiveness of our current election laws as well as future legislation that could improve our voter registration and verification processes. Among the information provided by the departments are the following statistics:

  • 6540 individuals registered to vote on November 8th, 2016 using an out-of-state driver’s license.
  • As of August 30th, 2017, only 1014 (15.5%) of those voters had been issued a New Hampshire driver’s license.
  • As of August 31, 2017, of the remaining 5526 individuals, only 3.3% had registered a motor vehicle in New Hampshire.
  • As of August 31, 2017, 5313 (81.2%) of the individuals who used an out-of-state driver’s license had neither held a New Hampshire driver’s license nor had registered a vehicle in New Hampshire.
  • 196 names on the checklist are being investigated as possibly having voted in New Hampshire and one other state.