NH’s New Republican Administration

We’ll Election Day didn’t go quiet the way we planned.  We have had worse nights, see 2010, and we’ve had better nights, see 2008 and 2012.  For the most part the Mount Washington Valley supported Democrats up and down the ballot.  I almost bear Rep. Chandler, Syndi White missed out on a House seat by less than 50 votes again and the top of the ticket won in most of our towns.

Statewide the top of the ticket did well with Gov. Hassan winning the Senate seat and Secretary Clinton narrowly winning NH’s 4 Electoral College votes. Apparently the Sununu name was enough to get Chris Sununu elected to the governors office though and gerrymandered districts helped the Republicans hold onto the majority in the NH Senate.

For the first time in 12 years the Republican hold the governors office here in NH for the first time since 2005.  It will be interesting to say the least to see how they handle that responsibility along with majorities in the NH House and NH Senate. Judging from the Legislative Service Requests(LSR) that have been filed, the first step in passing a bill, one of their biggest concerns is making more difficult to vote.

We are one of 13 states, plus the District of Columbia that allows for Same-Day voter registration.  It allows for folks who might be new to the area to register to vote, provided they are legally allowed to, when they go to the polling place.  This convenient option for voters was put in place in 1994 by Republican Governor Steve Merrill as a way to avoid creating a central Board of Elections in the state and be in compliance with the National Voter Registration Act that was signed into law in 1993 by President Clinton.  Setting up a central Board of Elections would cost the state millions of dollars so Same-Day registration was a cost effective way to get around complying with the new federal law.  Newly elected Governor Chris Sununu though wants to get rid of Same-Day registration though. If he follows through on his promise it will cost the State of NH millions, not something the NHGOP is typically eager to do.

Every year the NH GOP complains of voter fraud and mysterious buses of voters from Massachusetts sent in by the NH Democratic Party to sway the election their way.  The only 2 cases of voter fraud convictions that I know of are the son of State Sen. Jeb Bradley, who used an absentee ballot to presumably vote for his father in NH and voted in person in CO, and the son of former NH Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien, who ran for office in ME while a student at Bates College and voted in NH.  After all these years you’d think the Republicans would be able to take a picture of the magical buses from Massachusetts full of voters.  You wouldn’t think that someone who just won the election would be complaining about organized voter fraud the way Governor-elect Sununu and President-elect Trump have been.

After winning majorities in the House and Senate you would think the NHGOP would be focused on the upcoming budget, improving infrastructure, making sure education and healthcare are affordable and accessible to all, protecting the environment and/or making our state more attractive to young families.  Instead their focus seems to be on making voting harder and telling out of staters they’re not welcome, unless they’re buying alcohol or real estate.

We are among the oldest and fastest aging states in the nation and have relied for decades on inward migration to keep our population growing. Here in Carroll County we have also relied on out of staters buying real estate to subsidize out government operations.  Now that those non-voting tax payers are starting to move here full time and registering to vote here the politics of the region are changing and our Representatives and Senators are putting up barriers.  Some plans call for a minimum 15 or 30 days of residency in order to vote, what a voter just moves withing their town? Do they have to do it a month before Election Day in order to be eligible to vote? What if they change towns but not NH House districts? Or NH Senate districts? In our region with a somewhat transient workforce it isn’t uncommon for voters to move from one town to the next every couple months or years and it doesn’t matter in a US Senate or Presidential race where in NH they live, as long a they are legally allowed to vote.  The real aim of these measures is to disenfranchise those voters and create enough confusion around voting that they don’t even show up on Election Day and it is wrong.

 

In my opinion voters should be automatically registered if they are legally able to vote.  We should be making it easier for people to exercise their constitutional right to choose their leaders, not making more difficult.  Yes it might mean setting up a central Board of Elections in Concord, but that is part of running a 21 Century state that is welcoming to all.

 

Erik Corbett

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