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New Hampshire: Local Election Authorities, Lawmakers and Civil Rights Groups Call on Governor to Veto Same Day Registration Clawbacks

State Legislature Overstepping Local Control Over Elections

Concord, NH-Local election authorities, lawmakers, advocacy and civil rights groups, along with affected voters, came together Thursday morning to call on Governor Hassan to veto SB 179 and end the rollback on voting rights. SB 179 will require voters to, after moving, wait for 30 days before being able to vote, thereby chipping away at the state's same-day registration law. SB 179 also opens up public access to private voter information at the local level. This bill is the latest in a long line of attacks on voting rights in the Granite State. 

"SB 179 adds onerous burdens on the right to vote in violation of the New Hampshire and federal constitutions. The New Hampshire Supreme Court recently made clear that unjustified restrictions on voting rights are unconstitutional," said Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director for the ACLU of New Hampshire. "We strongly urge the governor to veto this unconstitutional piece of legislation."

"Just two weeks ago, the New Hampshire Supreme Court told Secretary of State Gardner he was wrong," said Senator David Pierce. "As a parent, as a legislator who represents many students, and as a lawyer, I am telling him he is wrong again. SB 179 is unconstitutional and he shouldn't push for unnecessary voting restrictions that impact our young citizens. Between the polling place camera mandate going into effect this fall and a bill that would disenfranchise classes of voters, I urge the secretary of state to stop the rollbacks and join us in bringing New Hampshire into the 21st Century of election modernization."

State Representative and Plymouth State University student Travis Bennett added: "Engagement of young people should be the foundation of our state's future. We want our voice to be heard on a number of issues, specifically around my generation's role to stop climate change. My vote matters. The votes of my student body around the rising cost of energy and investment in renewable energy is important to me. Believe it or not, young people have opinions and we should be valued, not just left in a world with no choices to make a positive difference."

"The New Hampshire state motto is 'Live free or die.' But the New Hampshire legislature is proposing barriers to the most basic principle of freedom - the right to vote," said Manchester Moderator Woullard Lett. "The proposed law follows a national pattern of voter suppression as a strategy in search of a problem. Voter registration waiting periods in a state with same day registration and intimidating practices like polling place photos discourage voter participation and limit access to our fundamental rights as citizens. The hypocrisy of bragging about being the first in the nation to vote in the presidential primary while suppressing the vote is shameful. We urge Governor Hassan to veto SB 179 and support free and fair elections in New Hampshire."

Some have argued that these onerous restrictions on voting rights are necessary to address alleged "drive-by" voter fraud. However, the secretary of state's office has produced no tangible evidence of "drive-by" voter fraud actually occurring in New Hampshire. Indeed, in response to a right-to-know request submitted by the ACLU of New Hampshire seeking information concerning alleged instances of "drive-by" voter fraud since 2000, the secretary of state's office only produced 26 pages of documents - none of which supported the notion that persons living out of state are voting in New Hampshire.

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New Hampshire: Bill Claws Back Same Day Registration

Joint press release from League of Women Voters New Hampshire, Fair Elections Legal Network and America Votes-New Hampshire.

 

For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Contact
Joan Flood Ashwell, League of Women Voters New Hampshire Election Law Specialist
(603) 397-8128 or jfashwell@comcast.net

Archita Taylor, Staff Attorney Fair Elections Legal Network
(202) 331-0114 or ataylor@fairelectionsnetwork.com

Paula Hodges, America Votes-New Hampshire State Director
(603) 361-2685 or phodges@americavotes.org

 

 

Bill Claws Back Same Day Registration
SB 179 penalizes New Hampshire voters and creates red tape, rather than improve elections

Concord, NH -- The state legislature created more red tape for voters by passing SB 179 today. The bill includes, among other problematic measures, a provision that requires voters to live at the same address for 30 days before registering to vote in New Hampshire. This requirement, in effect, chips away at the state's law allowing same day registration at the polls on Election Day.

The vote comes just weeks after a unanimous decision by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, which struck down several parts of the original bill that would have tied voter registration to DMV registration. In light of the case, House Republicans and Secretary of State Bill Gardner scrambled to amend the bill just 24 hours before committee members voted on it last week and without the benefit of a public hearing.

"Elections should be free, fair and accessible to all of our citizens. The proposed changes will penalize New Hampshire voters rather than improve or streamline our election process," explained League of Women Voters New Hampshire Election Law Specialist Joan Flood Ashwell. "Enough is enough. Those who proposed this bill claimed it was to prevent election fraud. The truth is when they are pressed to give examples of the fraud it will prevent, supporters of these bills cannot find any. The real impact of this legislation will be to dissuade legitimate voters, especially those under 30, from registering to vote and from voting. To make it even worse, the House Election Law Committee approved the new version of SB 179 after hearing testimony from supporters of the bill while refusing to allow anyone to speak in opposition. Citizens are not only losing their right to vote in New Hampshire, they are even losing the right to tell the legislature what they think."

"The Supreme Court and dozens of state and federal court decisions have upheld every citizen's right to an equal vote," said Fair Elections Legal Network Staff Attorney Archita Taylor. "It is alarming that New Hampshire's legislature continues to ignore fundamental constitutional rights by introducing and passing legislation that aims to discourage certain groups of voters, including college students, the elderly, and transient populations. SB 179 does nothing to improve election administration in New Hampshire, but rather, unfairly targets certain populations to keep them away from the ballot box."

"We are disappointed that the First-in-the-Nation State is quickly becoming the First-in-Voter-Suppression State," said America Votes-New Hampshire State Director Paula Hodges. "This bill is one in a series aimed at suppressing legitimate voters. Over the last six years, we've seen Republican leaders in the House and Senate refuse to stop the polling place camera mandate that costs the state hundreds of thousands of dollars despite overwhelming objections from clerks and moderators. We've seen unconstitutional legislation that dissuades voters from registering by implementing a poll tax to register vehicles in New Hampshire. Our secretary of state is wrong to roll back the clock on New Hampshire voters, and he is wrong to make voting harder for everyday people."

In the end, SB 179 and the other reforms from the legislature will have a chilling effect on voter participation. America Votes-New Hampshire, Fair Elections Legal Network and League of Women Voters New Hampshire urge the governor to veto this bill.

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