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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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