UPDATE: NH Dems Respond to Bettencourt
He said they "intentionally weakened" electoral system.
UPDATE, FRIDAY: The New Hampshire Democratic Party offered this response Friday to the Republican House Leadership's comments on the voter fraud video:
After watching out of state Republican operatives appear to violate New Hampshire election law, New Hampshire Republican Leadership has applauded their reckless efforts instead of calling for them to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The individuals in the video may have violated New Hampshire state law (RSA 659:34) by making "a false material statement regarding his or her qualifications as a voter to an election officer," applying "for a ballot in a name other than his or her own," and giving "a false name or answer if under examination as to his or her qualifications as a voter before the supervisors of the checklist or moderator." [video]
House Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt took to twitter to defend the alleged out of state criminals last night. "Fascinating some want to prosecute individuals who had guts to prove our election system had huge hole in it. Didn't actually illegally vote," he wrote. Among those who believe these irresponsible individuals must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law include, the League of Women Voters, the New Hampshire Republican Party Chair, national election law experts, and officials from the cities of Manchester and Nashua.
"No member of the state House of Representatives should applaud individuals who have violated New Hampshire laws, let alone the Republican Majority Leader of the State House," said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "These individuals interfered in New Hampshire citizens' fundamental right to vote, but instead of condemning their inappropriate behavior Republican Leadership has applauded the potentially criminal activity."
The unnamed individuals in the video used the identities of recently deceased New Hampshire citizens to commit their shameful scam. Relatives of those whose identities were exploited in the video called the scheme "horrendous," "awful," and adding that those involved "should be prosecuted."
"Republicans should be joining Democrats and members public in calling for these individuals to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The only way to preserve the sanctity of our elections it to enforce the laws prohibiting voter fraud," continued Kirstein.
EARLIER STORY: In response to the viral video from activist James O'Keefe's Project Veritas showing fellow activists obtaining New Hampshire primary ballots based on the names of deceased voters, Republican leaders in the New Hampshire House now say election reform is needed.
House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, placed the blame on the shoulders of Democrats for passing "laws that intentionally weakened the electoral system on the general theory that the more votes the better, without regard to who is casting those votes, and whether they were even legal."
Bettencourt said such laws fostered a situation where the events of video could be possible.
"Instead of acknowledging the prospect of illegal voting that their positions have given the state, Democrats like Attorney General Mike Delaney have hid behind the reality that the people who commit voter fraud don’t come out and tell us, and that we don’t have the resources to look for fraud, so they suggest that it doesn’t happen," Bettencourt said. "Well, it’s clear today that the emperor has no clothes and that it’s time to undo the damage of the Democrat rule and put some real teeth into the integrity of our elections by passing photo ID and residency laws to ensure that this doesn’t happen again."
House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, called the video "a shocking exclamation point on the need for immediate reform to New Hampshire’s election laws to ensure that voter fraud does not taint the rights of our citizens to have their votes counted in an honest, responsible way and impact our state."
O'Brien said the House will pass legislation this year requiring photo ID at the polls, despite Gov. John Lynch's veto of a similar bill in 2011.
"Hopefully, this video will shame the Governor into signing it," O'Brien said.
In his veto message from last year's bill, Lynch stated there was "no voter fraud problem in New Hampshire" and said the state has "strong elections laws that are effective in regulating our elections."
Lynch said the voting photo ID law would make it difficult for "seniors, students, those who are disabled or do not drive, and those who do not already have a state-issued or federal-issued photo ID" to be able to vote.