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Young Democrat Candidates Clinch Municipal Seats Across New Hampshire

Historic night capped with a sweep of all 3 at large Nashua seats

Manchester, NH– Last night, 16 New Hampshire Young Democrats from 7 cities were elected to municipal offices across New Hampshire. Celebrating this unprecedented wave of victories, the New Hampshire Young Democrats issued the following press release:

“Millennials across New Hampshire aren’t waiting around for others to make the change we need to make our state better. They are ready to lead and to make our communities thrive. They’re ready to stand up and keep New Hampshire the best place in the country to stay, work, learn, and start a family. When young people are elected and bring fresh new ideas to local government, our communities are better for it,” said NHYD President Lucas Meyer. “We are sick and tired of seeing our peers moving out of state because of short-sighted decisions made by out of touch politicians like forcing tuition hikes at our universities, restricting our ability to vote, lack of sensible transportation options like commuter rail and seemingly annual threats to basic women’s healthcare. Tonight we applaud the passion of all young candidates who ran this year and we celebrate those who were victorious tonight. We are excited to support their agendas as they take office next year and we look forward to continuing to help recruit, train, and elect more young people to state offices in New Hampshire in 2018.

The New Hampshire Young Democrats are the only statewide group organizing millennial Democrats. The NHYDs work to activate, engage, and train youth in state and local politics. The NH Young Democrats provided support, training, and resources to candidates running in municipal elections throughout the state through their 603-Forward Program. Started in 2008, this program helps identify and elect young candidates to local and state offices. Across the state, the NHYDs activated 200 of our volunteers, organized over 50 canvass launches and phonebanks, 4 days of action, and multiple trainings to help create the grassroots infrastructure needed to win these competitive races. Additionally, the NHYDs invested unprecedented amounts of resources into our endorsed candidates races in order to run aggressive digital and GOTV texting campaigns to turn out democratic and independent voters in an off year election.

“We had over 30 young people run for municipal office this year, with 20 running in Manchester alone, many of them first-time candidates,” said NHYD 603-Forward Program Director Theo Groh. “New Hampshire cities and towns have long struggled to figure out how to attract young families and keep young people in their communities. Who could know more about how do that then this incredibly hardworking group of newly elected young leaders?” he continued “We are so proud as an organization to have been be able to develop the infrastructure to help these great candidates run.”

Winning Candidates:

Erika Connors, State Representative Special Election, Manchester Ward 8*#
Shoshanna Kelly, Alderwoman-at-large, Nashua (first woman of color to serve as at large alderman) *#
Dave Tencza, Alderman-at-large, Nashua*#
Brandon Laws, Alderman-at-large, Nashua*#
Josh Denton, City Council-at-large, Portsmouth
Lindsey Williams, City Council-at-large, Dover*
Ed Levasseur, City Council-at-large, Somersworth*
Maggie Rice, City Council, Keene *
Jeremy Hutchinson, City Council, Rochester*#
Zachary Kohler, School Board, Dover*
Heather Raymond, School Board, Nashua*#
Marissa Chase, Selectman, Manchester*
Caitlin Curran, Selectman, Manchester*
Jeremy Paris, Selectman, Manchester*
Kate Marquis, Selectman, Manchester*
Karen Ladd, Clerk, Manchester
*=First time candidate
$= Red to Blue Flip

Democrats Win Big In NH And In Major Elections In Virginia And New Jersey

Yesterday was a big day for Democrats in New Hampshire.  Manchester elected Joyce Craig as their new mayor after 14 years of Republican control.

Democrats also picked up two House seats in special elections held last night.

Erika Connors defeated Albert MacArthur Jr. 1,198 votes to 1,178 votes to become the newest State Representative in Hillsborough County District 15. Erika’s victory comes in a district with 5% more registered Republicans than Democrats, where President Trump received 53% of the vote. Connors win marks Democrats fifth win in a Republican district in seven tries.

Brian Sullivan won the Sullivan County District 1 state House special election, 1,327-671 (66%-34%), defeating Republican opponent Margaret Drye. Representative-elect Conley will replace Rep. Andrew Smith who resigned in June.

Tonight’s victories mark New Hampshire’s seventh and eighth special election wins in ten tries in 2017.

“Congratulations to our two newest Representatives-elect on their victories tonight,” said New Hampshire House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff. “In Brian Sullivan, the House gains a public servant who has spent his career fighting to improve New Hampshire schools and to help working families. In Erika Connors, we gain a passionate, dedicated champion of public schools who will always fight for Manchester Ward 8. Their commitment to fighting for Democratic values will make them wonderful additions to the New Hampshire House of Representatives.”

“Tonight’s victories are yet another example of Granite Staters showing up in unprecedented numbers to support strong Democratic candidates,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “New Hampshire Democrats have now won 8 out of 10 special elections this year. New Hampshire voters are rejecting the Trump-Sununu agenda by showing up to the polls and electing Democrats to office. There is no seat Democrats can’t compete for in 2017 and these wins put us that much closer to taking back state and national majorities a year from now.”

“Democrats in New Hampshire just keep winning,” said Tom Perez, Chair of the DNC.  “Thanks to the hard work of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the energy of grassroots organizers, and the will of voters across the Granite State, Democrats won two state House seats, flipping one in an area that voted for Trump a year ago. And with Joyce Craig’s historical mayoral victory tonight in Manchester, Democrats have now flipped six seats in New Hampshire from red to blue in 2017. This is just the beginning. Democrats are going to keep organizing and leading with our values, and that’s why we’re going to flip even more seats up and down the ballot in 2018 and beyond.”

In Nashua, young Democrats won three Aldermanic seats.

“Tonight’s victory is a clear statement that Nashua is hungry for fresh innovative leadership to lead it into the future and make it a more appealing place for young people to live, work, learn and raise a family,” said New Hampshire Young Democrats Executive Director Amelia Keane. “Time and again, leaders in our city have put roadblocks in the way of common sense policies that will attract and retain more Millennials such as the development of passenger rail, compassionate solutions to the opioid crisis, and meaningful investments in our public schools. With Shoshanna, Dave, and Brandon now sitting at the table representing a more progressive vision for Nashua, real change is about to come to the Gate City.”

Along with these Democratic wins in New Hampshire, voters in other states chose to elect Democrats to lead them over the next few years.

In Virginia, Democrat Ralph Northam defeated his Republican opponent by ten full points.  The Daily Kos reported this morning, “Democrats also held Virginia’s two other statewide posts, as Justin Fairfax won the open lieutenant governorship and Mark Herring was re-elected as attorney general, both by 53-47 margins. ”

The same was true in New Jersey as voters elected the Democratic candidate, Phil Murphy, to be their next governor by almost fourteen points.  Democrats also retained the NJ Senate and the NJ Assembly.  “That once again gives Democrats complete control of state government, the so-called “trifecta,” and the chance to enact progressive policies long thwarted by outgoing Gov. Chris Christie. Enjoy the beach!” wrote the Daily Kos.

It is obvious with these major victories in New Jersey and Virginia coupled with the large number of Democratic victories in municipal elections across New Hampshire that change is coming.

Will Democrats be able to take back the NH House and Senate in 2018?

Will Democrats be able to take back the US House and Senate in 2018?

Will Democrats continue to build momentum all the way to the critical 2020 elections?

Time will tell, but if last night is any indication, we are off to a strong start.

NH Superior Court Blocks Penalties Within SB 3 (Voter Suppression Bill)

NH Superior Court put penalties for voter suppression law SB 3 on hold, siding with NH Democratic Party 

Nashua, N.H. – This morning, Hillsborough County Superior Court South put penalties for violating SB 3 on hold and granted both parties standing, siding with the New Hampshire Democratic Party on both key issues. The decision was a response to NHDP filing a preliminary injunction against the law. The case will now be heard in full, with both plaintiffs granted standing.

SB 3 would impose immense burdens on eligible New Hampshire voters, and is designed to have a disproportionate effect on young people, low-income, elderly and disabled voters who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.

“This order is a victory for voting rights in New Hampshire. The court’s decision to strip the law of its penalties shows exactly how burdensome and intimidating they are. It proves the state cannot threaten people with criminal prosecution for merely registering to vote,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “This order offers no good news for the state, who will now have to argue the entirety of this law on the merits. We know the state’s fight is a losing one, and one we will keep fighting, as NHDP has been has granted our day in court.”

“Most importantly, today’s order means voters are protected from the law’s intimidating penalties, continued Buckley. “This victory means that voters can exercise their most fundamental right to have a voice in our democracy without fear or intimidation. If even one voter is disenfranchised, we will stand up and fight it. We don’t intend to disappoint the long list of American heroes and martyrs who have risked so much for the right to have a voice at the ballot box. We are confident the full law will be declared unconstitutional.”

“This is a victory for voting rights.  As the Court held, the punishment portion of SB 3 imposed a severe restriction on the right to vote.  This portion was particularly problematic because it would have criminalized certain voters who simply do not have the required documentation,” stated Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director, ACLU of New Hampshire.

“Today’s ruling is a rebuke of the Republican effort to intimidate and disenfranchise New Hampshire voters and a win for voting rights,” said NH Senate Democratic Leader, Jeff Woodburn. “The court’s determination to strip the penalties in SB 3 because they are a serious deterrent to voting is vindication for those fighting to protect the fundamental right to vote. This is a strong first step in what will be a long fight for justice. Senate Democrats remain firm in our commitment to defend the right to vote and will continue to push back against the ongoing attack on New Hampshire voters.”

“Men and women from New Hampshire have fought in foreign lands to protect our rights at home, most importantly our right to vote,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff. “The House Democratic Caucus is doing everything we can to protect that right, and we were in full support of the lawsuit brought by the League of Women Voters.  Today’s court ruling affirms everything House Democrats have said about SB 3 throughout the process.”

“As the court ruling stated, SB 3 places ‘severe’ restrictions on voters that act as ‘a very serious deterrent on the right to vote.’  The ruling also noted that no ‘compelling’ need for SB 3 was presented to the Court.”

“Laws that deter voters through severe restrictions have no place in New Hampshire, especially when lawmakers cannot present any compelling reason for enacting it.  House Democrats will continue to do all we can to protect voters from unnecessary attempts to restrict voter rights,” Shurtleff concluded.

“The right to vote shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but Republicans in Concord are trying to change the way we hold elections so that it’s easier for them to win re-election. Now the New Hampshire Democratic Party is standing up for the thousands of Granite Staters who risk disenfranchisement under SB3, and they should be applauded for that,” said Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote.

“Instead of making an honest effort to earn the votes of New Hampshire college students, Republicans have decided to simply exclude them from the election process. Governor Sununu lost all credibility when he echoed President Trump’s lie that voters were being bussed in from other states to vote for Democrats in 2016. Governor Sununu has made it clear that he doesn’t value the free and fair elections that make up the cornerstone of our democracy, and he should pay for it during his next election.

“New Hampshire voters will make their argument in court for why this unconstitutional voter suppression law has no place in their state, but we also have to take this fight into the court of public opinion. Let America Vote exists to make politicians think twice before excluding eligible voters from elections to create a political advantage. Republican vote suppressors in New Hampshire will feel the legal and political heat of their missteps through the next election cycle,” Kander concluded.

SB 3’s provisions:

  • Create two different forms for those registering more than 30 days out from an election and those registering within the 30-day period
  • Deny those without paperwork the right to register more than 30 days out from an election
  • Force registrants to read & sign a long & confusing document comprehension experts say is written at a graduate-student reading level
  • Lengthen lines and dissuade voters from turning out due to the longer and more complicated same-day registration requirements
  • Mandate that voters who signed an affidavit bring evidence to verify their intent to remain in the state within 10 days after an election
  • Subject those who failed to deliver that evidence within 10 days to investigation and possible civil and criminal penalty of and a $5,000 fine
  • Appoint investigators, who could be anyone from police to the town conspiracist, to come to your door in their completion of a voter fraud investigation against you

SB 3 is the first voter suppression law passed in the Trump era. It was based on the “belief” of voter fraud rather than any evidence. President Trump and Governor Sununu’s lies about Democrats busing voters across the state border to vote illegally created a pretext for this suppressive law. Sununu signed it into law in July.

NH Almost Sends Private Voter Information About Domestic Violence Victims To Trump’s Commission

Today, the Attorney General’s office announced that the Secretary of State became aware of confidential voter information included on some marked voter checklists submitted to the State Archives.  The error was found during preparation to send personal voter data to President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission.

“A very small number of handwritten entries related to voters who at one time were entitled to vote non-publicly by absentee ballot because they had domestic violence protective orders issued by courts but were added to the public checklist as voters who voted in person at the 2016 General Election,” stated Secretary of State Gardner in a press release issued this morning.

“Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan told WMUR Tuesday that a total of 39 people statewide were under protective order at the time of the 2016 general election and that “approximately seven” of them were incorrectly placed on the public checklists submitted to the state archives by “a handful” of communities,” reported WMUR. 

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement:

“Today’s announcement by the Attorney General’s office regarding the public release of private voter information is very concerning.  This episode leaves more questions unanswered about the safety of Granite Staters’ voter information and reinforces the belief that New Hampshire should join the many states that have chosen not to share personal voter information with the Trump commission.”

“Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are protected under New Hampshire law and the careless release of this protected personal information may place a victim and their children in danger from an abuser.  Endangering the health and welfare of these victims because of unfounded voter fraud accusations is unconscionable.”

“After spending considerable time and effort in recent years lobbying for legislation that increases documentation requirements on voters, it is imperative that the Secretary of State’s office focus on providing guidance to our hardworking local election officials and assuring that current laws protecting voter information are not jeopardized.”

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“New Hampshire’s Live Free or Die spirit puts a high value on privacy. Today, we learned that New Hampshire’s attempt to comply with Trump’s sham Election Integrity Commission request interfered with the most sacred privacy imaginable. And for what? To soothe Trump’s fragile ego and manufacture proof of Trump’s voter fraud conspiracy theories?

Domestic violence victims deserve to have their vote protected and non-public. This was never a consideration for Governor Sununu when he went on TV to say ‘comply’ with the commission or you’re ‘playing politics,’ nor did he consider the questionable legality of handing over the information in the first place. This kind of unthinking snafu is why states default to protecting their voters’ information. We can’t trust this info with a leak-happy White House who has proven they’re not even capable of keeping code word secrets. This should be a moment of reckoning: New Hampshire must stand up to this sham Election Integrity Commission along with the vast majority of states around the country.”

Secretary of State Gardner stressed in his press release that the State “has not released any public records and will not release the requested copies of the marked checklists until an ongoing process of redacting handwritten non-public information is completed.”

NH Democratic Party Files Lawsuit Against Republican Voter Suppression Law (SB 3)

Concord, N.H. – Today, the New Hampshire Democratic Party filed a lawsuit with the Hillsborough County Superior Court on SB 3, the voter suppression law that was passed and signed into law this spring by a Republican legislative majority and Republican Governor Chris Sununu.

Legal issues with SB 3 include:

  • Registering to vote requires a “verifiable act” to demonstrate intent to be domiciled in the state
  • Legitimately domiciled voters could be denied the right to register by failing to present the new paperwork more than 30 days out from Election Day
  • A different, more lengthy registration form is required to be signed under penalty of voting fraud within 30 days of Election Day, opening themselves to investigation or being forced to provide documentation after an election

These burdens fall disproportionately on young, low-income and minority groups who are more likely to be transient or register closer to election day, creating arbitrary and differential treatment of eligible New Hampshire voters. These undue burdens serve as deterrents for voters and make it more difficult for election officials to efficiently register voters.

“New Hampshire Republicans have created a solution in to a problem they have no evidence exists. This is the latest in a long line of voter suppression efforts the Republican Party has engaged in around the country,” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Unfortunately, the myth of voter fraud has been spread by Republican leaders at every level, from President Trump to Governor Sununu and within the New Hampshire legislature, as a false pretext for restricting access to voting. The First in the Nation primary state should work to make voting more accessible and efficient to eligible voters rather than driving down turnout and changing the rules to shape their desired outcome.”

SB 3 is the first voter suppression bill passed in the country since the election of President Trump.  In November, Governor Sununu falsely claimed that Massachusetts residents were being bused into New Hampshire to commit voter fraud. President Trump parroted the same lie just after his inauguration in January. New Hampshire has a proud tradition of strong voter turnout, with among the highest turnout percentages of any state in the country.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement after the lawsuit was filed:

“I am in full support of the NHDP lawsuit to block implementation of SB 3.  As we heard throughout the legislative process, enacting this bill will do nothing but confuse and intimidate new voters and complicate the work of election officials.”

“SB 3 requires anyone who registers to vote within 30 days of an election and on Election Day to read, and affirm to understand under penalty of fraud, an overly complex registration form outlining new requirements to ‘verify’ domicile.  The bureaucratic requirements established by SB 3 are so cumbersome that the unnecessary complexity appears deliberate.”

“Republicans in the legislature have erroneously claimed that this bill is needed to combat ‘voter fraud.’  Investigations that have been conducted following every New Hampshire election since 2006 show that voter fraud is practically nonexistent in our state.”

“It is embarrassing that the Republican Party continues to push President Trump’s discredited myth that New Hampshire’s elections have been wrought with fraud.  The election officials in our cities and towns deserve more credit for the hard work they do preserving the integrity of our elections.”

Will Gov Sununu Save The NH Health Protection Program?

In Wake of Republican Healthcare Repeal Failure, Democratic Leaders Renew Call for Governor Sununu and Republicans to Work Across Party Lines on Healthcare

State Senator Jeff Woodburn and Rep Steve Shurtleff Push for Reauthorization of NH Health Protection Program

As millions of Americans are waiting with baited breath to see whether or not the Republicans in Washington D.C. are going to strip away their healthcare, the 50,000 Granite Staters who rely on the ACA’s expanded Medicaid program are waiting to see what Governor Chris Sununu will do.

From early on in his campaign, he has opposed the Affordable Care Act and has called for a repeal and then after he was elected, and the GOP took control in Washington, he began calling for a full repeal & replacement.

“To be clear, reform without an adequate replacement is not an acceptable option. Any repeal of the ACA must be simultaneous with a replacement,Sununu wrote in a letter to US Senate Majority Leaders.

“Reforming our nation’s health care system is imperative and our leaders must take swift, but thoughtful bipartisan action that is transparent and welcomes all sides to the table,” he added.

Now the Democratic Leaders in the NH Legislature are calling on Governor Sununu to put his words into action. Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff urged Governor Sununu and legislative Republicans to finally get to work on reauthorizing the NH Health Protection Program:

“We are relieved that Republican attempts to undermine healthcare have failed and given that the Affordable Care Act is the law of the land, we urge Governor Sununu and his Republican leaders to begin negotiations with us to improve our healthcare system and bring down healthcare costs.”

“The most critical thing we need to do is reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program (NHHPP), which is scheduled to end next year, as soon as possible. The NHHPP is a uniquely New Hampshire solution that more than 52,000 Granite Staters rely on for their health care, drives down costs for our businesses, hospitals, working families and our state, stabilizes our insurance market, and plays a vital role in combating the opioid crisis.”

“Democrats have attempted to work with Governor Sununu and the Republican majorities in the legislature to reauthorize and improve this successful program all year, but have been brushed aside as they waited on their Republicans allies in Washington to act. Its time to do what’s right for the people of New Hampshire and we call on Governor Sununu and his Republican legislative majorities to stop putting partisan politics above the health and well-being of hard-working Granite Staters, stop dragging their feet, and begin working with us to renew this successful program as soon as possible.”

As the US Senate voted to give tax breaks to billionaires while slashing Medicaid and Medicare on their Healthcare plan, Governor Sununu remained completely silent.  In a letter to Senator Mitch McConnell on June 27th, he voiced concern over the cuts to Medicaid and NH’s ability to keep the 50,000 Granite Staters currently relying on the program insured.  Ensuring that the current recipients of insurance through the Medicaid Expansion would not be kicked off their healthcare was a cornerstone of Sununu’s campaign.

However Governor, it is time to put up or shut up.

Governor Sununu must work with both sides of the aisle and find a way to ensure that the NH Health Protection Program becomes permanent until such time that all Americans are fully covered.

NH Passes Full Day Kindergarten, Sort Of

Yesterday, the Senate passed SB 191 also known as “Keno-garten” to partially fund full-day kindergarten in New Hampshire.

The bill would pay a portion of the costs ($1,100 of the $1,800 per pupil) to expand half-day kindergarten to full day with revenue generated through the state’s new Keno lottery.  There are no guarantees that Keno revenue will be enough to fund the program in the coming years and the bill still does not require all NH schools to expand kindergarten to a full day program.

The National Education Association of NH, representing thousands of educators across the state, explained the dilemma over SB 191 in their open letter urging legislators to support SB191.

“To be clear, SB 191 as amended by the Committee of Conference, is not perfect. NEA-New Hampshire has always, and will always continue, to advocate that full day kindergarten be funded in full in the same manner as all other grades. However, NEA-NH also recognizes sometimes you have to compromise in the process of getting to your ultimate goal.

SB 191 is just such a compromise. Yes, it does not guarantee full funding of kindergarten, and yes, the funding mechanism is not necessarily the one I would have chosen. But it is also the largest step New Hampshire has ever taken toward fully funding full day kindergarten that has occurred since I began teaching 18 years ago.

…New Hampshire’s current method of kindergarten funding puts an enormous burden on the 70% of New Hampshire municipalities (covering 80% of New Hampshire’s students) that have voluntarily elected to offer full day kindergarten. SB 191 will provide significant tax relief to those towns, and hopefully, encourage the remaining cities and towns to adopt full day kindergarten as well.

NEA-New Hampshire believes that all school districts should offer full day kindergarten. While passage of SB 191 does not accomplish that goal, it certainly puts New Hampshire much, much closer to reaching it than we ever have before.”

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn is disappointed that Republicans refused to adopt a fully funded, full day kindergarten program and vows to continue to push for a fully funded, mandatory full day kindergarten program.

“Senate Democrats have been leading advocates for Kindergarten, and for fully funding full-day Kindergarten, for many years — we know this issue well and we know what this means for our communities. Passing full funding for full-day Kindergarten should have been an easy task. Governor Sununu promised to support it during his campaign and full funding for full-day Kindergarten passed with overwhelming, bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.”

“It’s disappointing that in the final hour, Governor Sununu and Republicans snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by removing full-day Kindergarten from the budget, abandoning full funding, and choosing to push a half-measure tied to Keno. Make no mistake, SB 191 does not fully fund full-day Kindergarten. But, Democrats will continue to lead the fight for full funding for full-day Kindergarten with no strings attached.”

NH Democratic Party Chair Ray Buckley highlighted that newly elected Governor Chris Sununu campaigned heavily on expanding kindergarten and has “broken a key campaign promise.”

“The governor broke a key campaign promise today. Instead of the fully-funded full day kindergarten he pledged on the campaign trail, he offered a half-measure and turned a blind eye while Republicans gutted even that. Because of Sununu’s abject failure to lead, Democrats were forced to pick up the pieces and salvage what was left for the sake of our kids. Governor Sununu and the Republicans always seem to make common sense a complicated calculus. While Democratic leaders would simply pass fully-funded full day kindergarten, Republicans need to cut it in half, tie it to gambling measures, and beg their members to vote yes. Real reform requires real champions, and Republicans are anything but.”

After the bill passed NEA-New Hampshire praised its passage.

“NEA-New Hampshire applauds the passage of SB 191, and thanks Governor Sununu and the bi-partisan coalition of legislators for finally putting New Hampshire on the path to full day kindergarten,” said Megan Tuttle, President of NEA-NH. “The benefits of full-day kindergarten are clear. Those students that attend full-day kindergarten are better prepared to enter first grade, have a higher high school graduation rate and are more likely to go to college. Full day kindergarten is a sound educational investment and I am thrilled that the legislators in Concord have recognized that.”

Now that the bill has passed questions still remain about the constitutionality of the legislation.  Andru Volinsky, Executive Councilor, and the lead lawyer in the Claremont education funding case of 1997, told WMUR last week that the bill is unconstitutional.

… Senate Bill 191 fails to meet the standard set out in the landmark 1997 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision in the Claremont school funding case requiring the state to provide and fund a constitutionally adequate education to all students.

….The Claremont ruling did not specifically refer to kindergarten, but it did say that the state’s system of funding “elementary and secondary public education” at the time, almost entirely through property taxes, was unconstitutional.

“Full-day kindergarten is part of a constitutionally adequate education,” Volinsky said Friday. “And once you understand that concept, you understand that the state must pay for constitutional adequacy.”

Volinsky also said, by failing to fully fund, full day kindergarten local school districts who choose to expand kindergarten will be putting even more “burden on local taxpayers”.

For those that have already chosen to expand kindergarten programs, this bill is a step in the right direction but it does not go as far as it should. This bill will help the 70% of school districts that already offer full day kindergarten.

Coalition And Activists Call On Governor Sununu To Veto Voter Suppression Bill SB3

Legislators Fail to Stand Up for Voting Rights, Local Control of Elections

CONCORD – The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights urges New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu to veto SB3 following its passage in the state House today. Passing narrowly on a 191-162 vote, SB3 will create an unfunded mandate for cities and towns and long lines for same-day registration.

Sununu’s veto would be a show of support for the constitutional right of all eligible residents in New Hampshire to participate in our elections.

SB3 severely tightens qualifications for voting in New Hampshire and potentially criminalizes legitimate same-day registration voters who know they cannot provide proof that they have performed a so-called “verifiable act,” such as buying a home or entering a formal lease — thereby effectively disenfranchising elderly, low income, and other vulnerable citizens, especially those who move in the months before an election and are unable to obtain sufficient proof. Under SB3, a voter who knowingly fails to provide evidence of domicile within 10 days faces a fine up to $5,000.

Hundreds of activists worked around the clock after a record number of 40 bills pertaining to voting rights, were filed this legislative session. Next Wave organizations such as Indivisible and Kent Street Coalition went to work and joined over 10 permanent advocacy organizations in an effort that powered a grassroots movement. The campaign included 22 nights of phone banks hosted across the state filling 274 volunteer shifts powered by 134 volunteers. Patch through phone calls generated 478 calls to state Senators and 855 calls to state House members. Meanwhile 246 postcards reached 22 Senators and 795 postcards reached 258 House members. Approximately 500 voters attended SB 3’s two marathon hearings, the House hearing becoming one of the longest voting rights hearings in recent history. Finally, volunteers called every Town Clerk, Moderator and Supervisors of the Checklist, over 600 across the state, to educate them on how SB 3 would unfairly impact towns and cities.

“Hundreds of ordinary people, not previously politically involved, worked to defeat SB3, as they saw the bill for what it was, a serious attempt to make voting in New Hampshire more difficult for many eligible voters,” said Linda Rhodes, Co-Chair of Indivisible New Hampshire. “It’s a sad day when the New Hampshire Legislature, instead of modernizing voting and making it more accessible and transparent, makes voting harder for citizens. Our volunteers will now turn our attention to making sure that our voter registration drives get into high gear, and you can be sure we will be trying to replace the New Hampshire Representatives who voted in favor of SB3.”

“SB 3 got many of us to the State House for the first time, said Louise Spencer, leader of Kent Street Coalition.” “Voting is the most fundamental of our democratic rights and we weren’t willing to see this right legislated away.  So we began showing up – attending hearings, talking to representatives in the hallways, testifying before committees. We are paying more attention than ever to what is happening here in Concord and we intend to hold our legislators accountable on voting rights.”

“The 2017 Legislative Session was a wakeup call for community members around the state,” said Paula Hodges, America Votes NH State Director. “SB3 is only the beginning of a resistance movement that is powering actions in living rooms and town halls across the Granite State. New Hampshire has a proud tradition of inclusive civic engagement and SB3 flies in the face of that tradition. We are sad to see that the New Hampshire Secretary of State did not listen to the concerns of our cities and towns and the election volunteers who do the real work on Election Day. We didn’t send politicians to Concord to mess with voting rights and they will be hearing from their constituents on this vote all Summer.”

“Senate Bill 3 accomplishes one thing: the disenfranchisement and intimidation of thousands of young voters across New Hampshire. Our state’s real problem isn’t voter fraud, it is attracting and retaining young people to live, study, work, and raise families here,” said University of New Hampshire student Eli Tyrrel-Walker. “Despite hours of powerful testimony from countless young voters who see this bill as an assault on their, and their peers, ability to vote and take part in the democratic process Republican leadership decided to ignore our voices. Any measure that works to disenfranchise young people from participating in our vibrant civic culture is counterproductive and will only hurt our state.”

No local election officials supported the bill after hours of testimony in both the House and Senate and were not engaged in the drafting of the legislation. SB3 will jam lines at the polls, as some voters will have to fill out pages of additional paperwork.

“The reforms proposed in SB3 are not reforms that local election officials were looking for.  I find it interesting that the majority party that is always touting local control, doesn’t trust locally elected and sworn election officials to carry out this sacred duty? Every election official from Town and City Clerks to Ballot Clerk take this duty very seriously,” said Jim Tetreault, Town Clerk/Tax Collector, Town of Winchester.

“People shouldn’t be fined for exercising their right to vote and doing nothing wrong other than not returning to a government agency with certain paperwork—paperwork that these legitimate voters may not have,” said Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director of the ACLU of NH. “SB 3 is also a violation of voters’ privacy by sending government agents to voters’ homes to check their documents. Requiring people to accept this government intrusion as a condition of voting will chill the right to vote.”

Aside from the Coalition, many others spoke out against the passage of SB3.

University of New Hampshire student Eli Tyrrel-Walker:

“Senate Bill 3 will accomplish one thing: the disenfranchisement and intimidation of thousands of young voters across New Hampshire. Our state’s real problem isn’t voter fraud, it is attracting and retaining young people to live, study, work, and raise families here. Despite hours of powerful testimony from countless young voters who see this bill as an assault on their ability to vote and take part in the democratic process, Republican leadership decided to ignore our voices. Any measure that works to disenfranchise young people from participating in our vibrant civic culture is counterproductive and will only hurt our state.”

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook):

“Today’s vote in support of SB 3 was a partisan sabotage of the election process that will do nothing but confuse and intimidate new voters.  This legislation adds over 350 words to the registration form that new voters will be required to read, and swear to understand, with the pressure of a growing line behind them at the polls on Election Day.”

“Requiring voters to read and comprehend an entire essay at the polls is unnecessary, intimidating, and only complicates work of election officials who will be tasked with helping voters understand the registration requirements.”

“No local election officials testified in support of this bill because the current process works well.  SB 3 is an illogical solution in search of a problem that will increase bureaucracy and expenses on local taxpayers.”

“This legislation was clearly designed to placate those who buy into President Trump’s discredited assertion that fraud cost him the popular vote in New Hampshire.  Leaders from both parties denounced those assertions, and as we know from the reports released following every single New Hampshire election, voter fraud is not an issue in our state.”

“Our election officials deserve support for the hard work they do preserving the integrity of our elections.  Advancing the myth of ‘voter fraud’ is not only disrespectful to those who enforce our laws, it also threatens the confidence in our First in the Nation Presidential Primary.”

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Today, Governor Sununu and President Trump’s voter fraud lies definitively shaped New Hampshire law. Our voting system is already secure with no credible voter fraud, and Republican attempts to say otherwise are based in conspiracy theory. Voter suppression laws like SB3 are designed to drive down turnout and slow down lines. These voting roadblocks change the outcomes of our elections. Anytime we disenfranchise a single eligible voter, we are damaging the integrity of our elections. Governor Sununu and New Hampshire Republicans should be ashamed of themselves for propagating lies and legislation that undermine the integrity of our democratic process.”

America Votes Coalition And NH Democrats Praise Win in Special House Election

Coalition members engaged members and voters in today’s
special 
House election in Wolfeboro

ConcordNH – America Votes New Hampshire is a permanent progressive coalition including some of New Hampshire’s most powerful advocacy organizations working together to increase issue majorities and secure public policy advancements for working families across the state. Tonight, the coalition celebrates the special election win by Edith DesMarais in the New Hampshire House District Carroll 6 special election. The election saw extremely high turnout, around twenty-six percent, emphasizing the importance of comprehensive voter education and communication. 

“Our partners represent a broad economic and social justice agenda,” said Paula Hodges, America Votes NH State Director. “They fight for good jobs, quality healthcare, a clean environment, a strong public education system, voting rights and civil and human rights.  We are proud to have supported Representative-elect DesMarais, who supports these values and worked very diligently in her campaign to secure her position in the House to move New Hampshire forward.”

The America Votes coalition reached out to an estimated total of 1,969 members and voters in the district via phonebanks, canvasses, direct mail, and digital outreach.

Founded in 2003, America Votes-New Hampshire and coalition partners have played a major role in identifying voters and engaging them in civic participation based on their top issue concerns. Partner organizations who participated in the special election programs this May include America Votes New HampshireGranite State ProgressLegislative Majority PAC (The Independent Expenditure arm of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee ), Let America Vote, and SEA/SEIU Local 1984.


The NH Democratic Party also praised the win in Wolfeboro citing grassroots organizing and the rejection of the Sununu / Trump agenda.

New Hampshire House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff issued the following statement:

“We are pleased to see that Democrats are showing up, working hard, and turning out with a renewed sense of purpose. As Democrats, we will continue to fight for every seat in every district of the state. We congratulate and welcome Representative-elect Edie DesMarais to the New Hampshire House.”

NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“This is an important night for Democrats in New Hampshire and across the country. With hard work at the grassroots level and a positive message about Democratic ideals, we took back a seat previously held by a Republican. Democrats showed tonight that, in 2017 and beyond, we will reject the reckless and irresponsible policies of Donald Trump and Chris Sununu. It is only appropriate that New Hampshire, the home of the first in the nation primary, would deliver the first seat in the country to flip from red to blue in a working class town like Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.”

DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement:

“To rebuild the Democratic party, we need to win from the school board to the Senate. No seat is too small, and to be competitive we have to get back to the basics of grassroots organizing as a party. Last night, two Democratic women won upset victories in down-ballot races where Trump won by a large margin, and held on to a key Democratic seat in New York. They did it by talking to every voter. As President Trump and Republicans across the nation push budgets and policies that help the rich get richer at the expense of the rest of America, Democrats are focused on lifting people up and on the issues that matter to working families. As we saw last night, the Democratic Party continues to turn this moment into a movement and this movement into votes.”

 

NH Democrats File Ethics Complaint Over Governor’s Tweet Promoting Sununu Family Owned Ski Resort

NHDP files Executive Branch Ethics Committee Complaint against Governor Sununu

Concord, N.H. – Yesterday, The New Hampshire Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Executive Branch Ethics Committee concerning Governor Sununu’s use of his official Twitter account to promote his family business.

In a Tweet from the Governor’s official account, as opposed to his personal one, Sununu mentioned and promoted Waterville Valley. This free advertising from the platform of the governor is a privilege not given to any other ski resort, and could have led to increased revenue for the business. 

The Executive Branch ethics code mandates that “no executive branch official…use his or her position within the state to secure privileges or advantages for himself…or advantages for others.” Since taking office, Governor Sununu has filed a Financial Interest form, indicating financial interest in Waterville Valley that is relevant to his position as governor. Sununu’s family is also reported to have a stake in the company, maintaining positions on the Board of Directors, with a spokeswoman refusing to reveal which family members serve on the board. 

“Using an official platform to promote a family business is precisely what the ethics code attempts to prevent.” said NHDP Chair Ray Buckley. “Whether it’s Governor Sununu promoting Waterville Valley, Donald Trump defending his daughter’s products against Nordstrom, or Kellyanne Conway hawking Ivanka Trump’s wares from the White House press room, promotion of a business from a position of power is a serious abuse.” 

Buckey continued, “Governor Sununu has been coy about his business dealings in the past. Giving his family business free advertising isn’t exactly the way to dispel concerns about his conflicts of interest. This violation would be a good opportunity for Governor Sununu and Waterville Valley to disclose more information about the company’s funding and remaining Sununu connections.”

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