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Labor and Civil Liberties Organizations Come Together To Fight Against NH Voter ID Law

Organizations from across New Hampshire have come together to urge the Justice Department to reject the new Voter ID law.

A coalition including League of Women Voters, N.H. Civil Liberties Union, America Votes, American Friends Service Committee, Credo SuperPAC, Demos, Fair Election Legal Network, Granite State Independent Living, Latinos Unidos, NAACP Branch 2070, NH AFL-CIO, NH Citizens Alliance, NH Young Democrats, NEA-NH, SEIU Local 1984,  Service Employees International Union and Working Families Win submitted letters today to the U.S. Department of Justice asking the Department to deny pre-clearance of the state’s new voter photo identification law (Chapter 284) and new voter registration law (Chapter 285).

New Hampshire is required to submit all changes in voting laws to the U.S. Department of Justice for pre-clearance before the laws can go into effect. Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act requires the department to deny pre-clearance of state laws that have either a discriminatory purpose or the effect of suppressing the right to vote on account of race or color or membership in a language minority.

“There’s no legitimate reason for the radical changes the photo ID law makes to the way we vote in New Hampshire,” said Joan Flood Ashwell, election law specialist for the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire. “Years of investigations by the Attorney General’s office have confirmed that we don’t have a problem with voter impersonation fraud. That’s not surprising since that kind of voter fraud is virtually unheard of anywhere in the United States. We believe the real intent of this photo ID law is to make it more difficult for certain groups of people to vote, including students, the elderly, minorities and the disabled.

“Members of the House and Senate heard testimony that thousands of New Hampshire citizens don’t have a photo ID 25,000 to 50,000 according to the Secretary of State,” Ashwell said. “In this presidential election, students will be able to use their student IDs but that will change in 2013 when the law becomes the strictest in the United States. It will be unnecessarily more difficult for students to vote, especially those who come here from other states and are much more likely to be minorities.”

Jessica Clark, political and field director of America Votes, said the ever-changing requirements of the photo ID law and the lack of an education program seemed designed to discourage people from even trying to vote.

“We’ve already seen incorrect headlines in the papers saying that a photo ID will be needed to vote this November,” Clark said. “This is an overly complex law that requires a statewide education campaign using newspapers, TV and radio in addition to brochures and handouts. Some members of the House Election Law Committee tried to include an education campaign in the law but that was rejected by the sponsors of the legislation and by the House and Senate leadership. Voters need to know that they can sign an affidavit and obtain a ballot. In 2013, they’ll have to have a photo taken as well. America Votes believes the affidavit and photo are offensive and unnecessary but we also believe people should know there’s an option that is better than no vote at all.”

The second law, Chapter 285, changes the voter registration form to include a statement requiring people to agree that they must register their car in New Hampshire and obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license within 60 days of registering to vote. The wording of the new voter registration form contradicts New Hampshire motor vehicle laws which make it illegal for those who intend to leave New Hampshire at a specific point in time to register a car or obtain a driver’s license in New Hampshire.

“Chapter 285 is an attempt to change the definition of ‘domicile’ in Part 1, Article 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution,” said Claire Ebel, Executive Director of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. “A 1984 New Hampshire Supreme Court decision – George J. Every v. Supervisors of the Madison Checklist  – defined ‘domicile’ as distinct from residence. According to Ebel, “There is no question that Chapter 285  is meant to keep out-of-state college students from being able to register and vote in New Hampshire However, that question was decided by a federal district court decision in 1972 in Newberger v. Peterson, which established the right of students to vote where they attend school.  Students, visiting faculty, members of the military and others who know that they will leave New Hampshire at some definite point in the future have the right to register and to vote here while they live here.”

The coalition’s submissions describe the two new election laws as retrogressive and discriminatory and said they will reduce minority voting across the state. They criticize the Legislature for not presenting data to determine the impact of the laws, especially since these issues were brought to their attention repeatedly in hearings and in letters. The coalition said the laws are unnecessary, and the Justice Department should deny preclearance because the state failed to meet its burden under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.



Will You Be Effected By The New Voter ID Laws In NH?

This year the NH Legislature passed sweeping reforms in order to vote.  Even though we fought back against Voter ID laws the misguided leadership in the NH House pushed it through.  Now we need to work together to ensure that everyone know what they need to vote.

America Votes, an ally of the AFL-CIO  is working to protect our rights to vote and ensure every votes in this crucial election.  They are looking to find and help anyone who would not be able to vote because of these changes.    .

From America Votes:
This year the NH Legislature passed a bill, HB 1354, that will require a voter to show a photo ID at the polls when they go to vote. This year if a voter doesn’t have an ID they will be allowed to sign an affidavit that will allow them to vote.  We want to hear from you about how this legislation will impact you and your family.  Did a grandparent give up their driver’s license?  Does your 18 year old not have ID yet because they don’t drive?  Are you an out of state student worried about the impact? Send your story to jclark@americavotes.org.

America Votes will help to answer your questions about the new Voter ID laws.  All you need to do is tell them why you may not be able to vote under these new election laws.  They can and will help you.  It is your Constitutional Right to vote, don’t let anyone try to take that away. Know your rights and be prepared when the time comes!

Coming in January 2012: The Next Big Battle to Defend the Middle Class

A Message from Protect NH Families:

As 2011 comes to a close, we are grateful for your support in
our year-long battle to prevent New Hampshire from becoming the
next so-called “right to work” state. We urge you to continue to
stand with us as we fight back against the next round of
reckless, politically-motivated attacks on Granite State
workers, families, and small business.Lobby Days

Here’s a sample of the working-family-unfriendly proposals we’ll
be fighting in the 2012 legislative session:

* HB383 – a bill retained in 2011 as a back-up in case the House Leadership failed to get enough votes to override the Governor’s veto of HB474, the so-called “right to work” bill. HB383 is a version of RTW that weakens collective bargaining rights for state employees, but can be amended to affect a larger pool of Granite State workers and may be called for a House floor vote as early as January 4.

Also up for consideration:

* A bill that would remove affordable health insurance coverage from benefits negotiated in collective bargaining agreements.

* A bill that would revoke collective bargaining rights for all public sector workers.

* Several bills that would undermine the retirement security of state an local public employees.

Not one of these legislative proposals will increase work opportunities or job security for New Hampshire’s hard-pressed middle class, or reduce the number of Granite State working families falling into poverty or near-poverty. Not one of these proposals will improve the state’s economic or employment outlook, short or long term. Not one of these proposals will make our communities safer and healthier, or ensure that our children receive the high-quality education they need to succeed in the 21st Century job market.

Please join us in taking a stand to defend New Hampshire’s middle class in 2012. The two-day kick-off for our Citizen Lobby Days actions will be on January 4 & 5.

We also invite you to join Protect NH Families, our labor partners, and community allies for an interfaith service with Reverend Paul Sherry, D.C. Public Policy Director of the Interfaith Worker Justice organization, on Thursday, January 12 (4:00 PM). The service will center on how the moral teachings of multiple faith traditions impel us to be instruments of economic and worker justice in our own communities and beyond. The service, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Concord, is welcoming to people of all faiths and those with no specific faith tradition. Details for the January 4 & 5 lobby days and the January 12 interfaith service are listed below.

Yours in solidarity,

The Protect NH Families Team

Wednesday, January 4, 2012 – 8:00am – 4:00pm
Citizen Lobby Day to Defend the Middle Class: 2012 Kick-off, Day One
State House, Concord
Coffee & Check in from 8:00-8:30am
America Votes Office, 4 Park Street, Room 302
Contact: Judy Stadtman, jstadtman@nhaflcio.org
Sign Up on Facebook:

Thursday, January 5, 2012 – 8:00am – 4:00pm
Citizen Lobby Day to Defend the Middle Class: 2012 Kick-off, Day Two
State House, Concord
Coffee & Check in from 8:00-8:30am
America Votes Office, 4 Park Street, Room 302
Contact: Judy Stadtman, jstadtman@nhaflcio.org
Sign Up on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/events/301992096508702/

Join Protect NH Families supporters and our community and labor
allies for our Citizen Lobby day for the first 2012 House
session days on January 4 &5.

Thursday, January 12, 2012 – 4:00pm
Interfaith Service with Rev. Paul Sherry of Interfaith Worker Justice
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
21 Centre Street, Concord
Open to all.
For more information, email economicjustice.nhcucc@gmail.com

In an interfaith service open to people of all faiths (or no
specific faith tradition), Rev. Paul Sherry will deliver a
message about how the moral teachings of multiple faith
traditions impel us to be instruments of economic and worker
justice in our own communities and beyond.

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