ELECTION LAW

House Votes to Un...

The House of Representatives voted 182-159 to accept the committee of conference report on SB 527, legislation which now seeks to block the release of voter database information in pending litigation against SB 3.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said, “what happened with this bill represents partisan power politics at its core. According to the Attorney General’s office, the sole purpose of what the House did today is to influence litigation pending in Superior Court.”

The committee of conference report changed the effective date of an amendment passed by the House on May 3, making the amendment effective upon passage. Since the May 3 House vote, it has been reported that the amendment was requested by lawmakers in an attempt to block the discovery request granted to SB 3 litigants in Superior Court.

“What the House did today violates Constitutional provisions against passing retrospective laws, interfering in other branches of government, and acting as an advocate for a litigant in an ongoing lawsuit. Republican leadership even opposed standing by their actions, urging members to vote against publishing the debate in the House’s permanent journal, according to Shurtleff.”

ELECTION LAW

House Defeats Bil...

The House of Representatives voted 225-118 to reject the committee of conference report on SB 438, legislation which would establish a procedure for the rescheduling of town elections due to weather emergency. The House vote kills the bill for the remainder of the 2018 session.

This bill was a result of the confusion that occurred when a nor’easter hit New Hampshire on Town Meeting Day in 2017, and moderators throughout the state were given conflicting advice regarding their authority to reschedule their town’s election due to weather emergency. Despite broad acknowledgement that a clear procedure needed to be developed, the House and Senate took vastly different approaches to resolve the issue.

The Senate proposed a centralized process for postponement, requiring local moderators to obtain the permission of the Secretary of State in Concord. The House, after hearing extensive testimony from those involved in local elections, proposed a straightforward process keeping the decision to postpone town elections with the moderator and local governing body.
“For some reason, Republican leadership in the House was adamant that the decision to postpone town elections be made in Concord, and insisted on moving forward with the Senate proposal,” according to House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook).

ELECTION LAW

House Votes To Ad...

The House of Representatives voted to concur with Senate changes to HB 1264, legislation which changes the statutory definition of “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency” in New Hampshire. Despite hundreds of references to those terms in New Hampshire law, supporters have made clear that the intent of the change is to affect voting eligibility.

“I encourage the Governor to keep his word and reject this legislation that suppresses the rights of students,” House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said.

Shurtleff added that the Governor has said HB 1264 is flawed in that it suppresses the right of students to vote in New Hampshire. “Students attending our colleges and universities live in this state for at least three-quarters of the year. They pay taxes, rent apartments, make contributions to the community, and comply with our laws and local ordinances. Moving this bill forward sends the message to young New Hampshire adults that their input is not valued,” Shurtleff said.

ELECTION LAW

Another Attempt T...

In action aimed at college age voters, the House of Representatives voted 171-144 Wednesday March 7 to pass HB 1264, which changes the statutory definition of “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency” in New Hampshire. Despite hundreds of references to those terms in New Hampshire law, supporters made clear that the intent of the change is to affect voting eligibility.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff said, “this bill represents the latest chapter in an ongoing series of bills designed to restrict the constitutional rights of college students living in New Hampshire. As former House Speaker Bill O’Brien first stated in 2010, disenfranchising college students benefits Republicans because they are less likely to align with the conservative Republican mindset.”

“New Hampshire college students live in this state for at least three-quarters of the year, paying taxes, renting apartments, making contributions to the community, and complying with our laws and local ordinances. Students represent the future of our state – the very people that our business community will rely on to move our economy forward.”

“The new Republican Party motto has unfortunately become clear – ‘if you can’t beat them, disenfranchise them.’ Attempting to shut voters out of the process is no way to appeal to their interests and concerns, a lesson that Republicans will continue to learn the hard way.

ELECTION LAW

Establishing New...

The House Election Law Committee held a six-hour hearing on SB 3, a bill that many election officials say will lead to a complicated registration form that would lead to delays and confusion at the polls.

The NH Municipal Association believes the proposed bill would be almost impossible to implement.

Under the bill, a standard voter registration form would be used to register at most times during the year (as it is in current law). However, a different form, the state general election day registration form--currently used only when registering at the polls on the day of a state general election--would be used not only at the state general election, but also when anyone registers within 30 days before any election (town or city election, state primary, state general election, presidential primary); but the standard form would still be used to register on the day of any election other than the state general election.

Things get even more complicated when looking at the bill's requirements for proving domicile. Anyone registering "in advance of an election"--whether one day, 30 days, or 100 days--must either present one of several listed documents (driver's license, vehicle registration, etc.) or present "other reasonable documentation' to establish domicile. Someone who does not have "reasonable documentation" would not be able to register--he or she would have to return with the documentation, or register at the polls on election day.

It will be virtually impossible for clerks and supervisors of the checklist to keep these requirements straight. The bill contains contradictory statements about what the supervisors are to do when a voter tries to present the required documents after an election, and even contradicts itself regarding what action is, or is not, sufficient to establish domicile, among other things.

When this comes to the House, I will be voting against this bill.