The New Hampshire attorney general's office is investigating after a video surfaced that appears to show people using the names of deceased individuals to obtain ballots on the day of the state's presidential primary, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.
The 10-minute video is from activist filmmaker James O'Keefe's Project Veritas, and is meant to expose flaws in New Hampshire's lax voting regulations by showing poll workers readily handing over ballots in the names of dead individuals still on voter rolls. New Hampshire doesn't require photo ID to vote as long as the person is registered.
In the hidden camera footage, O'Keefe's phony voters approach workers at multiple polling places and receive a total of nine ballots using the names of recently deceased individuals. No fraudulent votes appear to have actually been cast, with the person leaving after receiving each ballot.
New Hampshire state law makes it illegal to use a false name to obtain a ballot. It's also a crime to make an audio recording of someone without their consent or to "record an election official without permission."
According to the Union Leader, state Associate Attorney General Richard Head said his office became aware of the effort on Election Day and began investigating immediately.
“That investigation is ongoing,” he said. “Based on the information received on Election Day and the information on the video, we are undertaking a comprehensive review of voting procedures with the Secretary of State.”
U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire John Kacavas told the newspaper he hadn't heard of the video as of Wednesday.
“If it's true, it's troubling to me,” he said. “I'm certainly going to look into it.”
But not every ballot attempt appears to have gone smoothly. In one incident, the Boston Herald reported, an individual was stopped from obtaining a ballot because a poll worker recognized the name of the dead man, who had passed away two weeks earlier. The individual left before police could catch him, the newspaper said. That incident is not in the video.
Nashua City Clerk Paul Bergeron is outraged, according to the Nashua Patch, and said he believes the filmmakers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"It's against the law to steal, so if you go out and steal and then put up a video and say, 'Look, I stole something,' that's a crime," he said. "What these people did was a crime. They stole a person's identity and used it to try to obtain a ballot that would be used in a state election."
And if the filmmakers crossed state lines to record the video, Bergeron believes they may have committed a federal crime as well.
"They recorded it without election officials' knowledge, which appears to be a violation of our New Hampshire wiretapping codes, and some of these are out of state residents, so I don't know if violations of wiretapping or ID theft could hold up in court, but if they crossed state lines to commit these crimes, it may be a federal crime as well," he said. "This is serious. We won't tolerate voter fraud, regardless of what the intent might be."
The Republican mayor of Manchester, Ted Gastas, is also furious, telling the Union Leader, "They should be arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
The Blaze has previously scrutinized O'Keefe's work, particularly his tactics of lying and creating fictitious scenarios to obtain his scoops. You can read The Blaze's report regarding his NPR exposé from March 2011 here.
O'Keefe maintains Project Veritas did not commit any crimes because they didn't actually vote with the ballots they obtained, he told Boston Fox affiliate WFXT-TV.
In an interview with the station, he also defended the tactic of surreptitiously recording poll workers.
"There's no expectation of privacy in the areas that we visited, these public areas," he told WFXT. "In fact, news reporters film polling all the time so I think that's under the rubric of journalism. So I think what we did is moral, ethical and necessary. We need to expose wrongdoing."
O'Keefe has also reached out directly to The Blaze. We'll be following this story as it further develops.