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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.

Stop Lying About Non Existent Voter Fraud In New Hampshire

“Voter fraud is rampant in New Hampshire elections.  Busloads of people are coming from Massachusetts to vote in our elections.”  

Trump said it. Governor Chris Sununu said it. Right wing advocates said it. So it must be true, right?

No.  Nationally over the past 16 years there has only been 35 cases of voter fraud out of the more than one billion ballots cast. This includes the four cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Of course right-wing extremists need a new way to suppress voter turnout and disenfranchise voters in the hopes that their new Voter ID laws and “domicile” mandates will keep left leaning voters from the ballot box.

This week, Trump’s Voting Integrity commission will be meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday September 12th.  Prior to his visit to NH, Kris Kobach posted an Op-Ed in Breitbart claiming that Senator Maggie Hassan only won because thousands of people with out-of-state licenses voted in the NH election.

Kobach is doing three things with this statement:

  1. He is perpetuating the lie that “busloads of out-of-state voters” are coming to NH to vote.
  2. Trying to make a case against “same-day voter registration,”  a right-wing priority item for years.
  3. Showing his complete ignorance to our voting laws.

A litany of people from both sides of the aisle have pushed back on this claim that “busloads of out-of-state voters” voted in the election, including: Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewindowski, Former NHGOP Chair Fergus Cullen, Former NH Attorney General Tom Rath, NH Assistant Attorney General Brian Buonamano, and even New Hampshire’s own Secretary of State, Bill Gardner denied these claims.

Claims of voter fraud have also been debunked by PolitifactFactCheck.orgWashington PostNew York Times, and the Boston Globe.

The right-wing has been working hard for decades to make it harder for people to vote.  They have been eyeing same-day voter registration for many years.  There is no denying that thousands of Granite Staters use this to register on voting day.  Typically these are young people who move a lot or are not generally involved in politics until major elections, like the Presidential election.

Of course these people tend to vote democratic and that is why the right-wing has been pushing to eliminate it.  If we had an easier way like, motor-voter registration or online voter registrations, there would more than likely be a significant drop in same-day voter registration. This would also greatly reduce the long lines in polling places that can dissuade eligible voters from casting their ballots.

Kobach clearly does not understand our voting laws.  In fact, he is confusing people about what is legal and what is “voter fraud.”  There is no legal requirement for a voter to have a NH drivers license or to register your car to vote in New Hampshire.

Dean Spilioties, civic scholar in the School of Arts and Sciences at Southern New Hampshire University, explained to NH Public Radio exactly how NH’s voting laws are written.

“Under the law, you can be domiciled here for purposes of voting but be a resident of another state… Where the out-of-state licenses were typically used is typically places like Durham, Hanover, Manchester. So those folks, if you’re a college student, you know, from an out-of-state – enrolled in a New Hampshire university or college, you are perfectly within the law to register to vote on election day or whenever with your out-of-state driver’s license and there’s no requirement that you then upgrade that license to a New Hampshire license at any time.”

NHPR’s News Director Dan Barrick agreed with Spilioties and added, “So there’s absolutely no evidence that, of those 5,000 plus people who voted with an out-of-state license… cast illegal ballots. There’s absolutely no evidence of that at all. And any implication is just really irresponsible.”

The Washington Post followed up on Kobach’s statement and spoke with NH college students who legally voted with an out-of-state drivers license.

“I was a student at Saint Anselm College in Manchester until I graduated this past May, and because I spent most of my time in the state I felt it was right I vote there instead of my native state of New York,” said Patrick Derenze, 22, who used his New York ID to vote.

New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner was tapped to be a part of Trump’s voting integrity commission, however many people are calling for him to leave the commission now as it has become evident that the commission is about finding evidence to prove the false statement that America has a voter fraud problem.

All four of New Hampshire’s elected Congressional Representatives are calling for Gardner to step down from the commission.

“Kris Kobach is deceiving the public in a desperate attempt to justify his sham Commission’s existence and back the President’s false claims – at the expense of our state and faith in our democratic process,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.  “I ask all public officials in New Hampshire to join me in condemning these dangerous lies, and I call on Secretary of State Gardner to immediately resign his seat on the Commission.”

“From the beginning, President Trump’s voter commission has been nothing more than a partisan sham to justify voter suppression laws,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This latest absurd attempt to sow uncertainty in New Hampshire’s election results is consistent with Kris Kobach and the commission’s efforts to use deceptive data to question the integrity of our elections. Undermining confidence in our democratic process is irresponsible and dangerous. I urge New Hampshire Secretary of State Gardner to condemn this most recent claim and end his participation in President Trump’s voter commission.”

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan issued a joint statement calling for Gardner to resign his position on the commission.

“It has been clear since its inception that President Trump’s voting commission is an attempt to grossly mislead voters and lay the groundwork for broad-scale, politically motivated voter suppression. Now, the head of President Trump’s misguided commission is using deceiving and irrelevant data to rehash the same false claims that have been debunked time and again by independent analysis and members of both parties in New Hampshire. The law clearly states that college students and other New Hampshire residents can vote without a New Hampshire ID, and these false partisan claims are deliberately twisting the facts. Secretary Gardner’s association with this partisan commission risks tarnishing his long legacy of fighting for the New Hampshire Primary and promoting voter participation, and it would be in keeping with his distinguished record to immediately relinquish any role with this commission.”

Gardner told The Associated Press on Friday that he will not step down because, “it’s important to figure out why Americans are losing trust in the election process.”

The answer to that question is simple: Because people keep hearing lies from prominent officials, like our President and our Governor, who say massive voter fraud exists despite any real evidence of fraud.

This is the same tactic the right-wing has been using to deny climate change. They use one report that denies the science and claim that “the results are unclear” or “the facts are in dispute.”

The facts clearly show that voter fraud is not the problem in New Hampshire but yet Trump, Sununu and Kobach continue to make false claims that it does.

If you want to strengthen the “integrity” of our voting system then let’s make some real changes. Make voter registration automatic, so when you move or buy a new home, you will automatically be registered to vote.  Make in-person voting more that a one-day event.  Have early voting locations where people can vote prior to election day open on weekdays and weekends.  Even better, let’s move to a vote by mail system, where your ballot is automatically mailed to you and you can either mail it back, or drop it off at a specified location, prior to election day.

Oregon passed a motor voter law and conducted voting by mail and they had over 70% of the eligible voters return a ballot.  Considering the national average is 55%, it appears they have found a way to increase voter turnout and protect their voting process by expanding voting rights.


The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights will be hosting a rally on Tuesday, Sept 12th, from 8am-10am at St Anslem College, where Trump’s voting commission is scheduled to meet.  More information here

Durham Weighs Columbus Day v. Indigenous Peoples’ Day At Council Meeting This Week

Town Council to Consider Resolution Establishing “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day” on Monday, 9/11/17

During the Public Comments section of the Town Council meeting on February 6, 2017, Durham resident Neil Ferris spoke about a movement underway to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He said the New Hampshire State Legislature should join Vermont in this effort, and could use some nudging on this from Durham. He asked that this be placed on the Council’s agenda in the near future. 

During the Town Council and Administrator roundtable discussion at the Town Council meeting on April 17, 2017, Councilor Wayne Burton noted Mr. Ferris’ earlier request and suggested that Administrator Selig bring the request to the Durham Human Rights Commission (HRC) for discussion and then come back to the Council on whether the commission believed this was a viable idea. 

This item was placed on the HRC’s meeting agenda for June 7, 2017 and Mr. Ferris was in attendance. Mr. Ferris said his request was for Durham to replace Columbus Day with an Indigenous Peoples’ Day and also petition the State of New Hampshire to do the same. He felt that if enough communities in New Hampshire were to do this, then the state may be more inclined to follow suit. He noted that efforts should be made to encourage people to become educated about Native Americans and America’s real history and anything that can be done toward this type of effort should be embraced. 

The commission continued its consideration of Mr. Ferris’ request at its meeting on July 26, 2017. Based on the discussion held at that meeting, Administrator Selig said he had given additional thought to other possible solutions besides replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. He offered an alternate name: “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day”, that would celebrate both the age of European exploration and the cultures and values of Indigenous Peoples, and to reflect upon the historical offenses against and ongoing struggles of indigenous people. The group discussed this notion further and consensus was to move it forward to the Town Council for its consideration.

The HRC met again on September 6, 2017 and reviewed and discussed a draft resolution introduced by Administrator Selig that would designate the second Monday in October as “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day” in Durham. Some amended language was offered by members of the group and this language has been incorporated into a draft resolution for the Council’s review and consideration on Monday evening, September 11, 2017, at the Town Council meeting.  

Durham Town Manager Todd Selig stated, “After much consideration and reflection regarding the discovery of the Americas by Europeans, I have come to support this resolution to designate the 2nd Monday in October as “The Age of Exploration and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.”  Not only is it appropriate to our local history, but also to recognize and value indigenous people everywhere.  The double naming of this day will serve to encourage people to learn more about the legacy of Christopher Columbus and the “Doctrine of Discovery,” while also recognizing the devastating affects of colonialism on indigenous peoples.”

To our knowledge, Durham would be the first community in New Hampshire to establish the 2nd Monday in October as a day that recognizes Indigenous Peoples in addition to European exploration in the Americas.  A growing number of states and communities have taken such as step in recent years to include Los Angeles, Vermont, Denver, Phoenix, Seattle, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, and Bangor.  

The Town Council meeting begins at 7 PM and is held at the Durham Town Hall, 8 Newmarket Road, Durham, NH.

Solar-Powered NH Town Celebrates Clean Energy Transition

Brentwood, NH — Municipalities across the country are leading the charge to transition to clean energy, and the Town of Brentwood is the latest example. A public ribbon cutting and tour are scheduled on September 16th to commemorate the recent installation of a ground-mounted solar array that will offset 100% of the town’s municipal electric load, with the exception of Swasey School. The event coincides with the town’s 275th anniversary celebration. ReVision Energy representatives will be on hand through 3 p.m. on Saturday to conduct tours.

Public Ribbon Cutting & Tour

Saturday, September 16th
11 a.m. to Noon
Brentwood Fire Department
419 Middle Road
Brentwood, NH

After Brentwood voters approved two related warrant articles this spring, ReVision Energy installed a 132.37-kilowatt solar array this summer on land between the fire department and Route 125. Harnessing the sun to generate electricity will save taxpayers as much as $1 million over the life of the system while also drastically minimizing the town’s impact on the environment.

“The town is excited to partner with Revision Energy on a great project that will save the town thousands of dollars every year,” said Rob Wofchuck, Brentwood conservation committee member. “The solar array will significantly increase the town’s energy security while drastically lowering the town’s carbon footprint. We firmly believe that it is the job of every municipality to lead by example. This project is a visible symbol that Brentwood is looking toward the future and cares about the environment and sustainability.”

The array includes 434 solar panels, each rated at 305 watts, spread across eight rows of ground-mounted racking secured by ground screws. The panels are backed by a 25-year warranty and have an expected lifespan of 40 years. If all of the solar panels were laid lengthwise, end-to-end, the panels would span nearly one-half mile.

The system also includes three inverters, which convert direct current generated by the array into alternating current used by the town. A web-based monitoring platform will allow the town to track the array’s performance.

The array is expected to produce approximately 165,300 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The clean energy produced by the array is equivalent to offsetting 175,879 pounds of carbon dioxide per year, which is equivalent to offsetting the emissions of 185 barrels of oil or 8,977 gallons of gas or the carbon sequestered by 76 acres of forests.

ReVision Energy owns the system through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the town. The agreement is an innovative financing tool that allows the municipality to benefit from solar power at no upfront cost. Under the terms of the PPA, the town purchases electricity from ReVision Energy at a negotiated rate. At year seven of the agreement, the Town of Brentwood will have the option to purchase the system at a significant discount, enabling the municipality to generate free solar power for decades to come.

Savings over the first six years combined are estimated to be approximately $49,000. Projected average savings from year seven and beyond are $28,000 each year, if the town agrees to purchase the system.

“As a local company based in Brentwood, we’re grateful for the opportunity to help the town in which we operate transition away from fossil fuels,” said Jack Ruderman, director of community solar initiatives at ReVision Energy. “Brentwood is a shining example of our mission, and it’s inspiring to partner with a town that embraces the value of clean energy.”

The Most Terrifying And Important Video About #Charlottesville You Need To See

The rise of the “alt-right” has brought with it a rise in white supremecy and neo-nazism.  One of the people in the middle of this push to mainstream nazism and “ethnic cleansing” is New Hampshire’s own Christopher Cantwell.

Cantwell moved to New Hampshire as part of the Libertarian “Free State Project,” though the people at “Free Keene (online)” are claiming he was never one of their bloggers.

Cantwell hosts a podcast called the “Radical Agenda” from his home in Keene, New Hampshire.  (I am not linking to his blog on purpose, if you are really interested in finding it you can google it.)

The Southern Poverty Law Center describes Cantwell’s show:

“On his show and in mordant essays published on his website Christophercantwell.com, this 36-year-old self-proclaimed fascist – whose style borrows from such mainstream shock jocks as Howard Stern and Opie and Anthony — argues for an Anglo ethno state free of African-Americans, Jews and non-white immigrants, save, perhaps, for the occasional exception.

In Cantwell’s world, Blacks are prone to violence and have lower IQs; Jews spread communism and can’t be trusted; immigrants are outbreeding whites; and a race war is all but inevitable.”

Cantwell’s words are vile and disturbing to say the least.  His hateful rhetoric actually scares.  The worst part is that he is not alone.

As the “Unite the Right” rally happening, Vice News, traveled to Charlottesville and followed Cantwell from the torch rally Friday night to the chaos that ensued on Saturday.

This 20 minute video from vice news very hard to watch, but some things must be seen.  Vice does an amazing job of showing the people in this “Unite the Right” rally and that while they claim to be promoting “free speech” their fascist message of violence and ethnic cleansing shows they did not go to Charlottesville to speak, they came prepared for a war.

 

In the most ironic turn of events, as the National Guard descended on Charlottesville and violence exploded Cantwell posted a video where he is crying and begging the police to protect him.  After all of the hateful rhetoric he spews in the 20 minute Vice News story it is hard for anyone to sympathize with his predicament.

 

Fascism is wrong. The thought of “ethnic cleansing” is appalling.  Nazi’s walking freely in the streets is disturbing.  My grandfather volunteered to service in World War II to destroy Nazi’s and fight the fascist regime.

We need everyone to stand up against hate. We need more white people, like me, to stand up against racism.

We beat the nazis before and we will destroy them again.

The Real Risk To Our Voting Process Is Not ‘Voter Fraud’

The goal of technology is to make our lives easier. With the invention of computerized voting machines calculating votes at the end of the day has become drastically easier but the use of these machines can cause additional problems and threaten the security of the ballot.

Over the last three presidential elections there have been multiple reports of malfunctioning voting machines.  Some touch screen voting stations would select the wrong candidate and the voter would have no way to change their vote.

Other issues stem from a lack of paper ballot backups. If a person challenges the vote count, election officials cannot go back and count the votes by hand because their are no paper ballots.

In Wellington Florida, election officials certified the wrong candidate based on incorrect computer tabulations of votes cast. The results were corrected after a hand recount of paper ballots was used to verify the results.

Some states have even gone so far as to allow their ballots to be transmitted over the internet leaving them susceptible to tampering.

Right now, President Trump created a Voting Integrity Commission to address voting laws and requirements under the guise of protecting us from non-existent voter fraud. This commission is a sham and way for Trump to validate his lies about millions of votes being cast illegally and to push for stronger voter ID laws that have been proven to suppress votes.  It is highly unlikely that Trump’s commission will suggest that “motor voter” registrations be mandatory, or that states should move to voting by mail to expand voter participation.

While in person voter fraud is a more of an urban legend than reality (literally a handful of cases in hundreds of millions of ballots cast), there are a few areas that have the potential to compromise our voting process, swaying results and it revolves mostly around the ballot itself, counting ballots, and the electronic transmission of voting data.

Yesterday, The Hill released an article  showing how hackers corrupted voting machines at a cybersecurity conference in Las Vegas.

One of the nation’s largest cybersecurity conferences is inviting attendees to get hands-on experience hacking a slew of voting machines, demonstrating to researchers how easy the process can be.

“It took me only a few minutes to see how to hack it,” said security consultant Thomas Richards, glancing at a Premier Election Solutions machine currently in use in Georgia.

…The conference acquired 30 machines for hackers to toy with. Every voting machine in the village was hacked.

The Hill also notes that the vast  majority of the machines used in actual elections are not interconnected or connected to the internet making it harder for potential hackers to corrupt voting machines on a large scale.   However, small scale or isolated tampering could sway the results of a single polling place.

But what about those states that are toying with some form of online voting or voting machines that are connected to the internet to transmit votes?  These actions put our votes at risk and the security of the ballot box in serious jeopardy.

“Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia allow some form of Internet voting – transmitting votes either via email, electronic fax, or Internet portal – typically for use by overseas and military voters. Because of current technological limitations, and the unique challenges of running public elections, it is impossible to maintain separation of voters’ identities from their votes when Internet voting is used,” wrote Caitriona Fitzgerald, Pamela Smith, Susannah Goodman in their report The Secret Ballot at Risk: Recommendations for Protecting Democracy

In 2016, Common Cause released a report focused on protecting the vote and ensuring everyone has the ability to vote. They reviewed laws and procedures for voting in 11 “swing states” to see if our votes were at risk.

“Once voters learn laws they thought made elections safer, like voter ID requirements, actually prevent hundreds of thousands of eligible people from voting, they are more likely to see it as a manipulation of the system and reject it.  It is critically important that voters exercise their constitutional right, so take a few minutes to learn more, because the best way to fight back against politicians gaming the system to silence your voice is to make a plan to vote,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn.

The report showed that my home state of New Hampshire faired very good when it came to tracking and protecting the votes after they have been cast through the use of paper ballots but was seen as “unsatisfactory” when it came to accessing the ballot box due to poorly written voter ID laws and inability of voters to register online ahead of time.

New Hampshire does not accept any form of “electronic” ballots and in-person voting is done on paper, though still calculated by a “scantron” machine.  Computer tabulation machines have been known to cause errors in voting results, but with a paper copy hand recounts and audits can be used to verify computer data.  Overall Common Cause rated New Hampshire as “excellent” in ensuring that our votes were not susceptible to outside hackers.

Other states did not fair as well.  Common Cause gave an “unsatisfactory” rating to Iowa, North Carolina, and Nevada when it comes to the potential of votes being tampered with after being cast.

Ballots cast online simply cannot be protected from undetectable tampering. Foreign or domestic hackers can access these ballots and alter their contents.

…Four of the states we reviewed put ballots at risk by allowing the ballots to be sent over the internet, where they are vulnerable to remote interception and undetectable altering. These states do not acknowledge the risks involved in internet voting.

Two of our swing states, Iowa and North Carolina, put ballots at risk by allowing overseas and military voters to vote via email. A third, Nevada has created its own internet portal for voter use.

(Note: The fourth state, not mentioned in the above quote, is Florida who allows absentee ballots from military service members to be cast via fax.) 

Ensuring everyone has access to the ballot box and that our votes are secure is the foundation of our democracy.  Voter ID laws block access to the ballot box and internet or computerized voting can put our ballots at risk.

What can we do to fix this?

Go back to paper ballots and count them by hand.  Eliminate the potential for hackers to tamper with voting machines by eliminating voting machines completely.  Going back to the old school way of doing it will protect our votes but it will take longer to get results. As a political junkie like myself, this means staying up till 2am to get results, and that is fine with me.

We need to focus our efforts to ensuring greater access to the ballot box and ensuring that our votes our secure and free from potential tampering

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.

Senators Urge Sec. Mattis Not To Enact Trump’s Discriminatory Anti-Transgender Policy

Shaheen, Hassan Join Bipartisan Letter Urging Secretary Mattis Not to Implement Transgender Ban

Last week, President Trump tweeted that transgender individuals could no longer serve in the US Armed Forces.

“After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

If enacted this new policy against transgender individuals would reverse policies issued by Sec of Defense,, Ash Carter in 2015 that stated:

“No Service member shall be involuntarily separated or denied reenlistment or continuation of active or reserve service on the basis of their gender identity, without the personal approval of the Under Secretary of Defense for personnel and Readiness.”

However since Trump’s policy announcement on twitter, the White House and the Department of Defense have not issued any official policy changes, leaving the thousands of transgender Service members hanging in the balance.  Since the official policy announcement in 2015, there have been zero reported issues by any branch of the military.

Now, everyone is waiting to see what Secretary of Defense James Mattis will do next.

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan joined a bipartisan letter signed by 43 additional Senators to Secretary Mattis urging him to advise the President against implementing the announcement he made via Twitter Wednesday that transgender Americans can no longer serve in the military.

“We strongly oppose this policy change, and urge you to advise the President against it,” the Senators wrote in the letter. “This announcement contradicts existing Defense Department policies, undermines our military readiness, and puts our transgender service members as well as their commanders in an impossible situation.”

“We appreciate General Dunford’s message that no policy changes should be made until implementation guidelines have been issued. We further write to request that, at a minimum, you do not separate any service member due to the person’s gender identity until you have completed the assessment that you announced on June 30, have reported back to Congress about any challenges that you foresee in the accession and retention of transgender troops, and determined the Department is unable to mitigate these challenges.”

Veterans like Jason Lindsay fear that this policy shift is a “colossal step backwards” in a statement issued Wednesday.

“As an Iraq war veteran and member of the LGBTQ community who was personally impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I am appalled at Donald Trump’s announcement this morning banning transgender people from serving in the military,” said Jason Lindsay, Executive Director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. “This is blatant discrimination, full-stop, and a colossal step backwards for our country.”

“Trump vowed to protect the LGBTQ community during his campaign, but his methodical dismantling of LGBTQ protections and rights shows his true intentions. This morning’s announcement is a direct attack on the transgender community,” said Lindsay.

The full text of the Senators’ joint letter is included here and below.

Letter to Mattis on transgender troops

New Hampshire Taking Strides in Solar Amidst Policy Uncertainty

Image By Jonsowman FLICKR CC

Although New Hampshire lags far behind other New England states in solar policy, it has seen an explosion in the number of solar installers vying to lead the state’s clean energy transition. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), New Hampshire is home to some 85 solar companies that employ 1,184 people, spurring $155 million in solar investment in the state.

The emergence of a clean energy industry in New Hampshire corresponds to a rapid rise in the number of homeowners and businesses that have chosen to go solar instead of paying for imported fossil fuels.

Approximately 9,000 New Hampshire homes are currently powered by the sun, according to SEIA, and more than half of the 57 megawatts of total solar electricity in New Hampshire was installed last year alone.

According to ReVision Energy, the state’s largest solar company, the rapid rise in solar adoption is due to increasing awareness of the costs of climate change as well as homeowners’ desire to keep their energy dollars in state and save money in the process.

“The cost for solar panels has dropped by 64% over the past 5 years, making it practical for Granite Staters to invest in a technology that comes with a 25-year warranty and proven ability to perform well in our region,” said Phil Coupe, co-founder of ReVision Energy. “In fact, New Hampshire’s solar resource is equal to that of Houston, TX and only 10% less than Florida.”

Nevertheless, industry leaders say the decision by the state Public Utilities Commission to artificially reduce the value of solar electricity exported onto the grid through net metering – contrary to independent analyses that find solar electricity benefits all ratepayers by supplying maximum power at periods of peak demand – could hamper future growth.

Even more disconcerting to the solar industry is the current uncertainty around the future of state rebates for solar projects, which serve to level the playing field with heavily-subsidized fossil fuels and enable lower-income homeowners and nonprofits to reap the long-term rewards of a solar investment through lower up-front costs. With only 0.32% of New Hampshire’s electricity mix currently coming from solar, such modest incentives are considered by the industry to be an important ingredient in the state’s clean energy transition.

By contrast, Massachusetts currently generates roughly 6 percent of its electricity from solar with 30 times as many megawatts (1,592) of total solar installed, according to SEIA.

Uncertainties aside, ReVision Energy says it is not letting up on its goal of a 100% clean energy future for New Hampshire and the region. In addition to full-service solar installations, the company provides hyper-efficient heat pumps, electric vehicle charging, battery storage, and complementary technologies to support a solar-powered lifestyle. It was recently named #1 in New England by Solar Power World Magazine.

“The technology has arrived and the only question that remains is us whether policymakers will allow the burgeoning clean tech industry to truly take off in our state by leveling the playing field with heavily-subsidized fossil fuels,” said Dan Weeks, Director of Market Development at ReVision Energy. “The science is clear that solar and wind are now the cheapest sources of electricity on earth and essential for a sustainable future.”

Trump Bans Transgender Individuals From Serving In Armed Forces

(DoD Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. James K. McCann)

Once again, Donald Trump shows us that he is no friend to the LGBT community.  Taking to twitter this morning, Trump announced a new policy banning Transgender individuals from serving in the military.

He said: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

This horrible new policy announcement puts the thousands of LBGTQ service members in very precarious position.  This takes us back to the days of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” where Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender individuals we forced to hide their identity.

Since 2016, transgender service members have been allowed to serve openly in the Armed Forces. However, that order did not allow transgender people to enlist until the conclusion of a one-year implementation period that was supposed to end at the beginning of July. However, in June, service chiefs requested a six month delay to study the issue further.

Currently, the U.S. military has 15,000 transgender individuals serving, making it the largest employer of transgender individuals in the nation. Thus far, the Defense Department has not issued a statement on Trump’s tweets. Questions remain regarding how Trump’s discriminatory ban will be enforced.

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, who in 2006 as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, fought to overturn “don’t ask, don’t tell,” fired back at Trump with her statement.

“This morning’s tweets from the President are a disgraceful slap in the face to the thousands of transgender troops who are actively serving our country, and to all transgender Americans who aspire to serve. These troops are patriots who deserve to be appreciated for their service, not used as political props by their Commander in Chief. As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I will fight to prevent President Trump’s ugly rhetoric against our troops from becoming reality, and to make sure these troops know that Americans appreciate their service and sacrifice.”

“If you are a trans service member affected by Trump’s outrageous announcement that he is barring transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, please contact us,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of ACLU-NH. “You and your service to our country deserve better than a Commander-in-Chief who rejects your basic humanity.”

Though some claimed that Trump was a “friend” to the LBGTQ community, it was clear that his support of North Carolina’s HB2, aka the bathroom bill, showed that he does not support the rights of trans individuals.  Now with Vice President Mike Pence by his side, Trump will most likely push even more anti-LBGTQ policies based on their warped ideological views.

“As an Iraq war veteran and member of the LGBTQ community who was personally impacted by ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ I am appalled at Donald Trump’s announcement this morning banning transgender people from serving in the military,” said Jason Lindsay, Executive Director of Pride Fund to End Gun Violence. “This is blatant discrimination, full-stop, and a colossal step backwards for our country.”

“Trump vowed to protect the LGBTQ community during his campaign, but his methodical dismantling of LGBTQ protections and rights shows his true intentions. This morning’s announcement is a direct attack on the transgender community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the only way we can protect our community is to elect pro-equality Democrats at the state and federal levels—which is exactly what Pride Fund has done, and will continue to do,” said Lindsay.

In New Hampshire, Freedom New Hampshire has been pushing to expand transgender protections and codify new anti-discrimination laws against trans individuals.

Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire called Trump’s tweets an “open attack” on the LBGTQ individuals serving in our nations Armed Forces.

“This is a clear and open attack on the brave individuals serving in our Armed Forces. Like all service members, those who are transgender go to work everyday, putting their lives on the line to defend our nation and the freedoms and values we hold dear. They should be treated with the same dignity and respect that all of our nation’s military members deserve,” Jakows stated.

“Today’s announcement sends an especially concerning message for transgender Granite Staters. Currently, New Hampshire is the only state in New England that does not explicitly protect transgender residents or visitors from discrimination in housing, employment or public services.

“Freedom New Hampshire is closely monitoring the situation, and remains committed to protecting all New Hampshire’s transgender residents and visitors from discrimination in housing, employment and public services,” Jakows concluded.

Another organization fighting for the rights of trans people is Rights & Democracy who had already planned an event in Manchester to show support for transgender individuals and continue to push for strong anti-discrimination laws.

“More than ever before, transgender nondiscrimination protections in New Hampshire are vital to the health and well being of our communities statewide,” they wrote on their Facebook Event page.

After today’s announcement showing our support for transgendered individuals is more important than ever.

Join Rights and Democracy’s event in Manchester July 29th.

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