What happened in Newmarket, New Hampshire on election day should have caused a national uproar, but it went largely unnoticed.
Voters felt intimidated by a self-appointed “poll watcher,” so they called the election hotline. Those phone calls to the hotline ended in a scuffle — and subsequent arrest of the Newmarket Republican Committee Chairman.
The Chairman, 38-year-old Joseph Barton, was acting as a “poll challenger” on-site on election day. While the act of “challenging” a vote is legal, all complaints about a voter’s qualifications are supposed to be in writing. A challenger is allowed to ask the attorney general’s office to verify a voter’s age, date of birth, residency status, citizenship status, and other information.
There were concerns about the authority Barton was using to challenge voters. Hotline calls were made. When asked to leave the polling area by the investigator from the attorney general’s office, he refused to comply.
The person who made the phone call to the voter hotline told officials that Barton was challenging people’s right to vote out-loud, asking questions in an intimidating manner. When confronted by an investigator from the Attorney General’s Office and retired Manchester Police Lieutenant Peter Favreau, a fight broke out, and apparently the men stumbled down the steps.
It’s already been determined that Barton will likely serve no jail time for allegedly assaulting the investigator from the Attorney General’s office on election night.
Newmarket police filed two Class B misdemeanor charges against Barton in 10th Circuit Court, Brentwood Division last week. Barton is charged with simple assault and resisting arrest. These charges are generally punishable by a fine and carry a fine of up to $1,200. Barton was also charged with a violation-level offense of disorderly conduct, which carries a fine of up to $1,000.
It is likely that he will get probation on December 2, when he is scheduled for court.
This is not the first time Barton has been accused of behaving badly or dangerously, according to Foster’s Daily Democrat:
Barton was involved in another political controversy three years ago. Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry) claimed in April 2011 that Barton threatened her after she refused to support the right-to-work bill. Carson said at the time that Barton called her and told her he knew where she lived and was “coming to get her.”
Sounds like another fantastic Republican leader. I wonder if they’ll try to hire him over at True the Vote .
[Image Credit: Foster’s Daily Democrat]