CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire secretary of state’s office hasn’t yet sent any voter data to President Donald Trump’s commission on election fraud because some of the checklists submitted by towns include personal information that needs to be redacted.
Two lawmakers and a civil rights group had sued Secretary of State Bill Gardner to block him from sending names, addresses, party affiliation and history of voting to the panel. But both sides agreed three weeks ago that state law allows him to send scanned, unsearchable images of the voter checklists each town and city sends to the state archive.
Since then, officials have realized that some 2016 checklists include handwritten entries about people who weren’t on previous lists because they had domestic violence protective orders. State law allows those who are protected by restraining orders or who have applied to keep their addresses confidential due to stalking, domestic abuse or sexual assault to vote by absentee ballot without being included on the public checklists, but some of their names were added after they voted in person in 2016, the attorney general’s office said.
“Subject to a more thorough review, the inclusion of this information appears to be the result of informal and well-intentioned practices adopted by a minority of municipalities,” Attorney General Gordon MacDonald said. “However, these local practices create the risk of exposure or non-public information.”
The attorney general’s office is contacting the individuals involved, and the secretary of state’s office is working to redact the information. In the meantime, there will be no public access to the voter checklists maintained at the state archives.
Amanda Grady Sexton, director of public affairs for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, said she was troubled that such private information had been compromised. She called for a full audit of information being submitted to the commission and a town-by-town review of checklists.
“This protection is vital to the safety of victims and their children, both those living inside and outside of emergency domestic violence shelters,” she said. “The State of New Hampshire has an obligation to prioritize the safety of victims of crime and to uphold their statutory rights. Victims of crime should never have to choose between their safety and their constitutional right to vote.”
Gardner, a Democrat, is a member of the commission Trump created in May to investigate allegations — offered without evidence — that millions of people voted illegally in 2016. Democrats have blasted the commission as a biased panel bent on voter suppression, and 13 states plus Washington have said they won’t provide any information requested by the commission. Among the 32 that say they’re providing some information, several say the commission must first pay fees ranging from $23 to $32,000.
The commission is meeting in New Hampshire on Sept. 12.