Legislation sought to bring New Hampshire voting, democracy into the 21st century
CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Senate voted today against SB 507-FN, authorizing online voter registration, by a vote of 13-11. Statements from voting rights advocates:
“New Hampshire is missing out on an opportunity to bring elections into the 21st century and expand access to voter registration. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have, with bipartisan support, implemented this approach to election modernization, and have seen savings in time, money and other resources,” said Brittnie Baker, Staff Counsel at Fair Elections Legal Network. “We need to continue to fight for common sense elections reforms that would help New Hampshire residents participate in elections.”
“New Hampshire’s voter registration system should be modernized and brought online to give every eligible voter an opportunity to participate in our democracy. Citizens can file taxes, apply for jobs, receive financial aid and register vehicles online,” said Paula Hodges, State Director of America Votes-NH. “Allowing for voter registration online ensures our democracy is keeping up with the technological world we live in.”
“Enabling fellow Granite Staters to securely exercise their right to vote should not be a partisan matter,” stated Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. “Online voter registration has been adopted in blue and red states throughout the country, precisely because it lessens the burden on local election officials and improves the integrity of the election system as a whole.”
“As the “First in the Nation” Primary state with one of the highest voter participation rates in the country, we believe New Hampshire can become a model for the nation in administering inclusive, transparent, and high integrity elections,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “Updating our voting systems to ensure that all voters have equal access, regardless of income, race, gender, disability, or age strengthens our democracy.”
SB 507-FN had previously passed the Senate on a voice vote, but was re-referred to the Finance committee. Voting rights advocates questioned the steep fiscal note that was attached to the bill, which was more than it cost the State of California to overhaul its entire voting system.
“The League of Women Voters NH is very disappointed with the Senate’s decision to kill the opportunity for New Hampshire to move to online voter registration. This was a good piece of legislation that was undermined by a fiscal note that was not credible. It’s not possible for online voter registration in New Hampshire to cost more than it costs for the entire state of California when most states have found the costs to be modest or nonexistent,” said Liz Tentarelli, President of LWVNH. “More than 30 states now have online voter registration, and election officials across the country have praised the benefits of a modernized voting system. Online voter registration increases voter roll accuracy and security, it reduces workload and costs for municipalities, and it encourages citizens to register and vote.”
The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights is a three pronged plan to strengthen integrity and build transparency into the voting process and improve access to the ballot box. The coalition includes America Votes-New Hampshire, Open Democracy, New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters-New Hampshire, NextGen New Hampshire, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, People for the American Way, Granite State Progress & Education Fund, and Fair Elections Legal Network.