New Hampshire AG Issues Cease And Desist To Democrats Over Political Mailings
09/29/2022 Repost from DC Enquirer
On Friday, New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella (D) issued a cease and desist order to the New Hampshire Democratic Party (NHDP) over political mailers that allegedly contained misleading information about voting by mail.
The mailings sent to prospective voters contained the incorrect address information for multiple city clerks which caused “voter confusion and frustration” for voters, according to JustTheNews.
The mailings included pre-paid and pre-addressed envelopes for voters to return their absentee ballot applications. The addresses, however, had errors in the Kingston and East Kingston townships.
“I confirmed that the issue our Office was aware of involved Kingston and East Kingston where the return envelopes had the Post Office Box for the East Kingston Town Clerk but had the town of Kingston’s name and its zip code,” Formella wrote, adding, “It appears these envelopes were supposed to be returned to the Kingston Town Clerk, but the address is not correct.”
The order went on to explain that the AG’s office had been contacted by multiple voters about issues with the mailings: “Some of the concerns raised by these voters are that the mailer states, ‘You have a history of requesting absentee ballots’ when the voter has not voted by absentee ballot in the past, the voter’s domicile address is listed as a town or city in which they do not live, the return envelopes are addressed to ‘[County Name] Board of Elections’ which are entities that do not exist, and the return envelopes have incorrect addresses for the Clerks.”
Given the many issues with the political mailings in the Democrats’ haste to try to get voters out to the polls, the attorney general stated that such errors could violate election law.
“The return mail addresses on the mailer are likely to mislead voters into intentionally violating [state law],” the New Hampshire official wrote. “It could also disenfranchise some voters in that voters may complete absentee ballot applications believing that they will receive ballots for the general election, only to discover that their applications were never delivered to their town or city clerks.”
Given the reckless nature of the mailings that have likely misled and disenfranchised voters, Formella ordered that the Democrats immediately halt the distribution of the mailings.
“In light of our conclusion that the NHDP has caused voter confusion,” the AG began, adding, “the NHDP is hereby ordered to CEASE AND DESIST any and all activities which violate the law by causing voter confusion in the future.”
“Furthermore, the NHDP shall CEASE AND DESIST from publishing any other absentee ballot application mailers for the 2022 election cycle unless they are accurate and include accurate return mail addresses and voter domicile information.”
The NHDP has until September 27 to submit a written plea to the attorney general’s office explaining how they will comply with the order.
This halting of political mailings for Democrats will likely hamper their campaigning efforts in the last few weeks before the midterm elections.
Don Bolduc (R) is running against incumbent Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) for the Senate. Polling accumulated by FiveThirtyEight has indicated that Hassan is up nearly eight points on Bolduc, however, polling for New Hampshire’s first and second congressional districts is much closer with seven and three-point lead for Democrats, respectively.
Republicans might have a chance in New Hampshire thanks to the Democrats’ incompetence and haste. It’s no surprise that their campaigning is just as messy as their governing.
Read more HERE.
and from the New Hampshire Bulletin
New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella ordered the New Hampshire Democratic Party to stop issuing mailers that his office said contain false information about absentee voting and could disenfranchise voters.
In a cease-and-desist order sent to the party Friday, the Attorney General’s Office said the party had sent mailings to voters that contained invalid return addresses, and that were littered with incorrect details about the voters’ domicile address and voting history.
The mailers were sent to 39 towns and affected 926 voters, the department said.
State Democratic Party Executive Director Troy Price acknowledged the incorrect mailers Friday, calling them “a regrettable clerical error made by a mail vendor.”
“The NHDP has been transparent about the issues with this mailing and have been working with the Attorney General’s Office to remedy the situation,” he said in a statement. “We have already taken steps to contact the voters affected, and we expect to have this issue resolved shortly.”
According to the Attorney General’s Office, the erroneous mailers contained layers of false information. The mailers stated to voters: “You have a history of requesting absentee ballots,” even when some who received them did not. Some mailers also listed the voter’s domicile address as a town or city in which they don’t actually live.
And in some mailers, the return envelopes for absentee ballots directed voters to send ballots to election entities that don’t actually exist in the state, addressing the return envelopes to “[County Name] Board of Elections,” the Attorney General’s Office said. The addresses to the town and city clerks were also sometimes inaccurate, the office stated.
“The NHDP’s mailer, with incorrect return mail addresses and voter domicile information, is causing voter confusion and frustration,” the office said in a statement.
The problem was first noticed in Kingston on Sept. 21, according to the attorney general’s cease-and-desist letter. The town clerk in East Kingston – a separate town from Kingston – noticed absentee ballot requests arriving that were addressed to the East Kingston clerk’s office but clearly intended to go to the Kingston clerk’s office. The return envelopes were also addressed to the Rockingham Board of Elections, which was also incorrect.
In order to head off further problems, Department of Justice Chief Investigator Richard Tracy requested that the U.S. Post Office in Kingston hold any return envelopes from the mailer in order to make sure that they were delivered to the correct clerk’s office, the cease-and-desist letter said.
The Attorney General’s Office also contacted New Hampshire Democratic Party officials on Sept. 21, who told the office they were working to reach out to voters affected in Kingston and remediate the problem.
On Sept. 22, the party informed the Attorney General’s Office that the errors appeared beyond Kingston and East Kingston, affecting 39 towns in total. A day later, Formella issued the cease-and-desist letter. The names of the 37 other towns have not been released by the Department of Justice.
The consequences for the incorrect mailers could have been significant, the Attorney General’s Office said.
Submitting the incorrect information could have caused voters to accidentally violate RSA 657:6, which requires voters to mail absentee ballot requests to their town clerk. And the office said that it could have disenfranchised voters, who may have realized too late that their absentee ballot applications were never received and that their absentee ballots are not arriving as expected.
Formella ordered the party to provide his office a remediation plan by Sept. 27 that lays out how the affected voters will be contacted and how any ballot applications will be corrected.
“The NHDP is required to notify each recipient of this mailer of the necessary remediation steps that they must take, including using the correct address for their clerk’s office, in order to obtain an absentee ballot prior to the general election,” the letter states.
And the office said it would instruct town and city clerks who do get the erroneous absentee ballot applications to accept them even though they contain bad information.
In his statement, Price said the error-ridden mailers were sent “with the intention of ensuring every Granite Stater was able to cast their ballot in this year’s general election.”
New Hampshire Republican Party Executive Director Elliot Gault called the development “deeply troubling” and charged the Democratic Party with spreading “election confusion in Rockingham County – a county where Republican voter registrations outnumber Democrat registrations.”
“By seemingly creating a fictitious ‘Rockingham Board of Elections’ this has the potential to spread misinformation regarding the upcoming 2022 election and I commend the Attorney General’s office for issuing this cease & desist letter,” Gault said. “Overburdening municipalities with their mistake is unacceptable. The New Hampshire Democrat Party needs to immediately implement a solution to prevent any of the voters they mailed from being disenfranchised or suppressed from the voting process this November.”
Read more HERE.