CONCORD, N.H. — A New Hampshire man who posted a fake Craigslist ad for a free trailer with a legislative candidate’s number on the day of the election — saying it was a joke — has lost his right to vote in the state.
Michael Drouin, 30, of Merrimack pleaded guilty Monday to creating a false document after a flood of unwanted calls and texts jammed up the candidate’s cellphone.
That’s just a misdemeanor, but it still disenfranchises Drouin. Under the New Hampshire Constitution, anyone convicted of a willful violation of the state’s election laws loses their right to vote in the state. His plea agreement also called for a 90-day suspended jail sentence, a $250 fine and 250 hours of community service.
“Mr. Drouin has no right to vote in New Hampshire for federal, state, or local elections,” Matthew Conley, assistant attorney general, said in an email.
He said Drouin has the right to petition the New Hampshire Supreme Court to request restoration of his voting rights.
The special election was held in April 2021 to replace Republican New Hampshire House Speaker Dick Hinch, who died of COVID-19 in December 2020.
The candidate, Bill Boyd, a Republican who went on to win, turned off his phone after receiving more than 37 phone calls or text messages in 45 minutes on the morning of the election. A complaint was filed that day by the executive director for the New Hampshire Republican Party.
“I experienced distress with my phone going on and off,” Boyd said in court, WMUR-TV reported.
The attorney general’s office said Drouin’s actions could have cost Boyd the election and violated the law.
Drouin, a registered Democrat at the time who had voted in the election, told police “It was a joke, I meant no harm,” according to an affidavit. He said he wasn’t sure why he had chosen the date of the election, saying it was bad timing.
Boyd told investigators he knew Drouin through local organizations and had received a Facebook friend request from him. Boyd said he received a message from Drouin saying he had pranked him, that it was terrible timing, and that he’d like to take him to lunch to apologize.
“I want to make amends. I apologize,” Drouin said in court Monday.
Drouin was originally charged with a felony, interference with election communications.
Story by Kathy McCormack, Associated Press