The Portsmouth City Clerk's office reported Tuesday afternoon that it received two complaints that illegal exit polling activity was taking place outside of wards 1 and 5 and that the Attorney Generals Office stepped in to stop it.
As voters went to the polls to cast ballots in the 2012 New Hampshire Primary or exited the polling places, representatives of a group called DemocracyorEmpire.org handed out a "Ballot on America's Future" to them and asked them to fill them out and mail them to a P.O. box in Manchester.
According to a copy of the group's ballot, they are also affiliated with OccupyNH.
Portsmouth City Clerk Kelli Barnaby said state law mandates that people can conduct exit polls or hand out literature to voters, but they cannot be inside any building where voting is conducted and they must remain outside of the 10-foot wide corridor outside of a polling place. She said a city election official at Ward 1 did contact the Attorney Generals office when they observed that a member of the group was not adhering to the law.
According to the state law, voters need to have at least a 10-foot wide area of clearance when they enter and exit a polling place. As long as someone makes sure they are standing outside of that zone, the state law allows them to be there.
The Attorney Generals office then sent a representative to Ward 1 and they along with Ward 1 Moderator Petra Pantelakos-Barstow talked to Andrew A. Cadot, a retired lawyer from Portland, Maine, and told him he had to remain outside the 10-foot corridor zone.
"We went out together and explained to him that he was encroaching in the permitted areas," said Pantelakos-Barstow. Initially, she said the group had e-mailed the City Clerk's office and requested permission to conduct exit polling inside the polling place, but the City Clerk's office denied that request, she said.
WMUR reported earlier on Tuesday afternoon the Attorney Generals office received similar complaints at wards in Manchester and Dover.
Cadot said his group is handing out the ballots to voters as an education tool and that 75 percent of the Portsmouth voters he approached took a ballot with them.
At 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Cadot was still outside of New Franklin School handing out ballots to voters. Pantelakos-Barstow said they had not experienced any other issues with Cadot or any other members of the group as voting was expected to continue through 7 p.m.