Fact Check: Trump falsely claims Democrats can vote in New Hampshire’s GOP primary

Former President Donald Trump is peddling false claims about voting rules for next week’s New Hampshire primary, as he tries to blunt Nikki Haley’s momentum in the state.

At a campaign event in Portsmouth on Wednesday, Trump falsely claimed that New Hampshire laws “allow Democrats to vote in the Republican primary.” He also said, “Nikki Haley is counting on Democrats and liberals to infiltrate your Republican primary.”

Facts First: This is false. Registered Democrats can’t participate in the New Hampshire GOP primary. Only Republicans and independents can vote in the Republican contest.

Trump has a well-documented history of lying about elections, most famously in 2020, when he routinely spouted disinformation about mail-in ballots and other voting rules.

In New Hampshire, there’s a large share of independent voters, who are called “undeclared.” The state prides itself in letting undeclared voters participate in either party’s presidential primary. They can pick which ballot to take when they show up to their polling place Tuesday. But registered Democrats can’t crossover to the GOP.

“Registered Democrats cannot vote in the Republican primary, and registered Republicans cannot vote in the Democratic primary,” New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan told CNN on Wednesday. “…We’ve been pretty clear about the process.”

Trump complained that “Democrats … can walk in and just sign up right away” to cast a ballot in the Republican primary. But that’s not accurate – he appears to be conflating the voting rules for independents with what he thinks the rules are for Democrats.

“Undeclared voters can declare a party when they list their ballot, vote in that party. And then after they’re finished voting, they can change back to undeclared,” Scanlan said.

Back in 2016, when Trump decisively won the New Hampshire primary, he didn’t express many concerns about the role of independent voters. That’s likely because he benefitted from their participation. CNN exit polls indicate that 42% of all voters were independents, and Trump won a larger share of their support than any other candidate.

This time, it’s Haley who might have the edge with independents. In Trump’s massive Iowa victory, he beat Haley by 39 points among Republican voters, but he had a much slimmer eight-point advantage among independents, according to CNN entrance polls.

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