N.H. should prosecute the fake voters
Conservative and ethically challenged activist James O'Keefe is back in the news, once again, manufacturing edited videos to make a case he can't produce with existing facts.On New Hampshire's primary day, O'Keefe and crew committed voter fraud at polling locations in Manchester and Nashua by impersonating recently deceased New Hampshire voters -- some of whom had only passed away days ago -- and then illegally filming their interactions with New Hampshire poll workers without knowledge or consent.Those interactions can be seen on a video sent around by O'Keefe's group, Project Veritas, in an effort to bolster support for a photo identification bill that would require a limited number of ways to prove your identity at the polls.O'Keefe's decision to break the law and disrupt New Hampshire's primary is being met with the contempt it should.First and foremost, the stunt was incredibly disrespectful to families still grieving the loss of a loved one -- one clip uses the name of a New Hampshire veteran less than 10 days passed. That alone should give one pause as to O'Keefe's credibility.And, like many previous O'Keefe productions, it is edited to portray only the message he would like you to believe, not the reality of what took place.For example, it appears that O'Keefe specifically chose older individuals to impersonate and listed the ages of the recently deceased voter to make it appear as if someone should have questioned a 20-something-year-old voting for an 88-year old. But New Hampshire doesn't list birth dates or ages on the voter file -- a potential public policy point O'Keefe could have made if he wasn't focused on manufacturing stories of fraud.The video also shows only select footage, and purposely leaves out a clip in which a New Hampshire poll worker busts the O'Keefe team when she realizes whose ballot they are trying to obtain. That story was covered in the Boston Herald the day of the primary, but is not highlighted in O'Keefe's version.If anything, all this video proves is that localities do not update their deceased voter information often enough. What it does not prove is that voter fraud is a rampant problem in New Hampshire, outside of the staged actions of the individuals in question.In fact, it suggests quite the opposite. O'Keefe did not have his team actually cast ballots because they assumed that was the moment they could be charged with voter fraud.Unfortunately for them -- and good for election protection -- even impersonating a New Hampshire voter is considered voter fraud under state and federal law. But more to the point: O'Keefe's decision not to cast a ballot is a sign that the system and penalties in place deter would-be offenders.Of course, O'Keefe and his team did break the law and did film themselves doing it, and for whatever "public service" or "citizen journalist" cover they want to try to plea, they should be held accountable. In fact, based on state laws and statements by the Attorney General's Office, O'Keefe and his team now face several potential charges of voter fraud and identify theft, in addition to illegally filming individuals without their permission. In essence, they could lose their own right to vote as a result of their misguided actions.To which we say: good. We agree with the New Hampshire Republican Party chairman who said, "Anyone involved in voter fraud should be punished to the fullest extent of the law."O'Keefe should be prosecuted, and the New Hampshire public officials and candidates who are endorsing his illegal activities should reconsider the message they are sending.Zandra Rice Hawkins is director of Granite State Progress.