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Pair charged with double voting in 2016 election

September 19, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A couple accused of casting ballots in two states are the first to face voter fraud charges in New Hampshire after their names were flagged by a multistate database.

The New Hampshire attorney general announced indictments Wednesday against Grace Fleming, 70, and John Fleming, 71, of Hampton. They’re accused of casting absentee ballots in New Hampshire for the 2016 general election while also voting in Belchertown, Massachusetts. They face up to 14 years in prison if convicted of violating laws against voting in multiple states and voting more than once for any office.

A Hampton phone number for the Flemings is disconnected, and no one answered at a number listed for them in Massachusetts.

While the state has prosecuted a handful of voter fraud cases in every election cycle for decades, these are the first charges in New Hampshire against people flagged by the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, which is aimed at preventing voter fraud by identifying duplicate voter registration records among those voluntarily provided by states. New Hampshire was among 28 participants last year, though some have dropped out or are re-evaluating the program amid criticism that it results in false matches and doesn’t properly protect personal information.

In May, Secretary of State Bill Gardner said the system flagged nearly 95,000 New Hampshire voters whose first and last names and dates of birth matched those in other states, but officials eliminated all but 142 of the matches after taking a closer look at middle names and other information. At that time, officials had sent 51 names to the attorney general’s office for investigation. Both the secretary of state’s office and attorney general’s office declined Wednesday to say whether more names have been sent since then.

The investigation follows President Donald Trump’s claim that he lost New Hampshire only because “thousands” of people came by bus to vote against him. Trump has alleged repeatedly and without evidence that voter fraud cost him the popular vote. He later created a commission to investigate voter fraud that was shut down after states refused to comply with its request for detailed voter data. Concerns about voter fraud also have fueled multiple efforts in the Republican-controlled state Legislature to tighten the state’s election laws.

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