Recently, The New York Times published an article headed, “The Times Called Officials in Every State: No Evidence of Voter Fraud.” Oh, but there was! Little did the Times know, New Hampshire has had an allegation of voter fraud. Said fraud was allegedly perpetrated by me.

I received a call from Concord that I ignored, as these are generally robocalls pertaining to extending my auto warranty or consolidating my credit card debt. I didn’t give it a second thought but later I noticed I had a voicemail. (It’s so irritating when that automated voice leaves a message!)

Imagine my surprise to hear a real person addressing me by name and introducing himself. He was with the investigative unit of the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office, and he asked that I return his call, which, of course, I immediately did.

I had no idea what this might be about — although recently I’d driven my new car to visit my mother in New York and had blown through several N.H. tolls before I realized I didn’t have an EZ Pass transponder affixed to my windshield. Guilty as charged.

This turned out not to be the issue. It seems that the Attorney General’s office had received a hot tip because of what I’d written in my Conway Daily Sun column the previous Friday. Specifically, it was the following that raised eyebrows: “I did what I could do. I voted. Several times. But here in New Hampshire sanity prevailed, and my votes weren’t needed. I should have instead cast my many votes in Florida. .... My daughter lives in Miami. You’d have thought she could have locked this one up for me with her multiple votes.”

Of course, I was satirizing one of countless (and seemingly endless) staggeringly inappropriate Trump statements, this one being his instruction to North Carolinians to vote absentee and then vote again at the polls. “So let them send it in and let them go vote,” he said. The president neglected to mention to voters that this is, in fact, illegal.

That the humor in my column was not readily apparent to whoever alerted the AG’s office wasn’t all that surprising. That it was not apparent to the AG’s office, however, and that they would invest their time getting to the bottom of this “lead,” is truly concerning. I can only assume I was turned in by a rabid Trumper. Unless .... Bill Marvel, was it you? You crafty coondog! Good one!

The investigator, a Richard Tracy (some stuff you can’t make up!), asked me about my statements. After laughing out loud, I asked if he’d read the column, and yes, he had. Enough said. I then jokingly asked if this was also going to be investigated in Florida. I didn’t get a definitive answer, but I inferred that the door had not been closed on the possibility.

What came over me next was a wave of unease, and I had to wonder if this was some grim new reality. My gut registered alarm and I had an unsettling impression of how citizens in an oppressive autocracy must feel on a daily basis. We’ve certainly been teetering on the brink, but have we crossed that tipping point? Is this still our United States and does our Constitution still frame our rights? Or, after four years of being chipped away at and undermined, has some mutant version of this source of our government’s powers, limitations and protections arrived at my front door? One in which the First Amendment has been nullified and any “free” speech unpopular with Dr. Frankenstein begets silencing.

At the conclusion of my phone call with Dick Tracy, I called my husband, but as we spoke, I was compelled to speculate on the privacy of our conversation. I can no longer make such an assumption, and I caution that when citizens feel threatened this should serve as a jolting awakening. We all need to be on high alert that we are not witnesses to a devolving nation.

In the meantime, I’m expecting another call after this past week’s column. In it. I quote our president railing on FOX News that “ballots (are) being sent to everybody and their dogs, OK?” I happen to have five dogs. If you’ve been following along, you know how they voted.

Jonna Carter lives in South Conway with her husband and five crazy rescue dogs.

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