Leading up to New Hampshire’s state primary on Sept. 13, we’ve asked local voters to share what issues they most want to see the candidates talk about this election season.
With a wide open Republican primary for U.S. Senate, NHPR is speaking with the top candidates in that race to learn more about where they stand on some of the most common concerns voters shared with us. The winner of that primary will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan in November.
Read on for NHPR Morning Edition Host Rick Ganley’s interview with retired Army Brig. Gen. Don Bolduc, who also sought the nomination in 2020.
What questions do you have for the candidates running for governor, U.S. Senator and Congress? What issues do you most want them to address while seeking your vote? Share your thoughts here.
Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity.
Rick Ganley: There’s been a lot of misinformation around election security and voter fraud, both nationwide and here in New Hampshire. A poll from earlier this year found that 64% of Americans believe that U.S. democracy is actually in crisis. I want to ask you about your opinion. Do you believe that the 2020 election was conducted fairly?
Don Bolduc: Well, you know, it’s my opinion based on research that I’ve done and talking to Granite Staters all over the state. I’ve visited every city and town in this state over the last two years. And, you know, they’re concerned about the following things, and so am I. They’re concerned about the machines, and the veracity of those machines and how they can be manipulated. They’re concerned about the loopholes in mail in balloting. They’re also concerned about college students that don’t reside here being able to vote here. And they’re concerned about same day voter registration. They feel that’s susceptible to fraud. And then they’re really concerned about the voter ID situation here, where you can show up with no ID, sign an affidavit, and then in 10, 14 days, bring your ID back. And the reason they’re concerned is the Secretary of State’s record shows that 10,000 people did this and less than 400 brought their IDs back. So they believe all these things should be tightened up.
(Editor’s note: While isolated cases of wrongful voting have been identified in recent New Hampshire elections, state officials have found no evidence of significant voter fraud or foul play. There’s also no evidence the state’s ballot counting devices have been subject to tampering nor that they deliver inaccurate election results when handled properly. Those machines are aging and can, at times, experience mechanical errors, but they are not connected to the internet. While New Hampshire, like many states, expanded access to absentee voting due to COVID-19 in 2020, election officials still needed to verify that all absentee voters were eligible under state election laws. Those COVID absentee voting rules have expired, and absentee voting is now only available under limited circumstances; that process still requires voters to prove their eligibility before casting a ballot. New Hampshire allows anyone, including college students, to vote in the state if they have established a legal domicile here. Most states, including New Hampshire, require some proof of identification in order to vote. In New Hampshire, there are multiple ways of providing that verification, including signing an affidavit affirming your eligibility; if a voter lies on that form, they could face fines or other penalties. NHPR reached out to state election authorities requesting data on the number of affidavits left unverified in the 2020 election. We did not hear back by the time we published this piece, but Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards addressed the issue at a recent meeting of the Secretary of State’s Special Committee on Voter Confidence. “There’s a small amount, a small number each time that we are not able to resolve,” she said. “It doesn’t mean that those individuals weren’t casting a lawful vote at the time. It just means that we don’t have sufficient information to form a conclusion about their domicile or their qualifications.”)
Rick Ganley: Well, I understand, General, but do you get a sense from people when you talk to them that they’ve really looked into what has been investigated and what has been dispelled? For instance, as you know, you have to sign an affidavit and your vote can be contested later on by the municipality where you make that vote. And there have been very few instances of voter fraud that have been proven.
Don Bolduc: You know, what they tell me is that they don’t believe that the investigations have been as thorough as they can. They don’t think that the Secretary of state’s office is manned to do so. You know, this is what Granite Staters are telling me. This is a state issue and I get elected in this state. And so I am also concerned that we have the highest level of voter integrity.
(Editor’s note: While the Secretary of State plays a role overseeing New Hampshire’s elections, the Attorney General’s Office is primarily responsible for election investigations and enforcement.)
Rick Ganley: And I appreciate that. I do in the interest of time want to move on. I do also want to point out that multiple investigations did find that there’s no evidence that the 2020 election was stolen.
Don Bolduc: Did I say it was stolen? I didn’t say it was stolen. I said that Granite Staters have issues and that’s who’s important. I just want to be clear on what I’m saying. That’s all. Thank you.
Rick Ganley: Let’s get on to some issues that listeners have asked us about. Many people in New Hampshire are struggling, obviously, with the costs of day to day living. Inflation is at a 40-year high. I want to ask you what you would support to immediately help lower costs for people living here. What could you do in the U.S. Senate?
Don Bolduc: Well, I’m going to be a proponent for stopping the spending. I’m a hell no on new spending. It’s out of control. We’ve got to reverse our energy policies. They created the inflation. I go across this state and I meet moms and dads who are suffering. They’re suffering because they can’t pay the bills. They can’t register their vehicle. They can’t inspect their vehicle because if they pay that money, they can’t put food on the table. This is a problem that’s been caused by both the Republican Party and the Democrat Party in Washington, D.C. And we need an outsider down there that is going to say hell no to spending and has the national security experience to know that a strong economy begets a strong country. And therefore, we have to be energy independent. And the other thing is our open border is creating all kinds of expenses for us, millions and billions of dollars. And we’ve got to close that down as well.
Rick Ganley: Well, let’s talk about immigration for a moment. What specifically would you like to see done?
Don Bolduc: Well, I’d like to see the policies that President Trump had in place reinstated. They were working. We had the best border security during the Trump administration. And this isn’t about liking Donald Trump or not liking Donald Trump. This is about policies that worked. And I worked at the highest levels of our government on border security. I know what good border policy looks like. I was sent to many countries in this world to work on border policy, and I know what that looks like. And what we’re doing right now is not right. We haven’t resourced our Border Patrol, and we have to get our ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy back in place. And we’ve got to do the right things for this nation to protect this nation.
Rick Ganley: Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v Wade, General, some states, as you know, across the country have put in place severe restrictions on abortion. Would you support federal restrictions on the procedure?
Don Bolduc: I supported the Supreme Court decision because I think it was the right decision in interpreting our Constitution. I think it belongs to the states, and the states will make that decision. Majority of Granite Staters do not agree with end-of-term abortion. And so the New Hampshire legislature, listening to the people, came up with a law that prohibits it after 24 weeks, but allows it up to that point. And then one exception after the 24 weeks, which is the health of the mother. That’s listening to the people. That’s the legislature doing its job. And I believe that women on both sides of the issue have a better chance of being heard at the state level than they ever do at the federal level. The last 50 years, the federal level has been a disaster, and Maggie Hassan has done nothing but throw fuel on the fire and create divisiveness. So our state has it. They should have it. The federal government needs to stay out of it.
Rick Ganley: Out of all the responses we received from listeners asking what’s on their minds for the election season, the top issue was climate change. I want to ask you, General, do you believe that climate change does pose an imminent threat? And what would you like to do about it?
Don Bolduc: Well, climate change is something that I’m always very concerned about. And I think, you know, that goes with my being raised here in the Granite State, in the Lakes Region, clean water, clean air. You know, we don’t want anything that we do to hurt the climate. I spent 33 and a half years in the military conducting operations and training humanitarian operations, combat operations. We were always very, very concerned about the climate and any damage that we did to the environment. And as a United States senator, I will approach this situation with a balanced approach that, hey, we need technology, we need to move forward, but we can do it in a safe way. And, you know, at this point, I’m very comfortable with America. What I’m not comfortable with is China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and how they pollute and how they hurt the environment. And that really needs to be addressed by the United States, by the international community.
Rick Ganley: Well, specifically, what would you like to see as far as legislation is concerned?
Don Bolduc: We can do it through sanctions. We can do it through, you know, trade. We don’t have to do business with them. We can remove our manufacturing from their countries, bring it back to the United States here. You know, there’s a lot of things that we can do to pressure them to clean up their act.
Click here for more information on the criteria NHPR uses to determine which U.S. Senate candidates we’re interviewing ahead of the primary.
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