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Republicans In The New Hampshire Senate Pass “Poll Tax” On Voters

The Senate voted to change the residency requirements when registering to vote that could cost new voters hundreds of dollars. 

Today, the Republican-controlled New Hampshire Senate voted along party lines to pass HB372, the voter suppression legislation that would create a de facto poll tax by redefining residency in the state. Governor Sununu was pressured to oppose the bill after struggling to walk back his widely debunked voter fraud claims from the 2016 election. Sununu did, however, sign voter suppression legislation SB3 into law in July. The NHDP is currently suing the state to undo SB3.

“HB 372 is a political ploy to slow progress by making it harder for young people to participate in our democracy. This legislation creates a de facto poll tax and disenfranchises eligible New Hampshire voters. This bill clearly targets college students, who have every legal right to vote here. We should be encouraging students to stay here and remain a part of their communities after college, but HB 372 does the exact opposite,” said Senator Jeff  Woodburn, the Democratic Leader from Whitefield.

“It is disappointing to see Senate Republicans take another step toward voter suppression, building on the SB 3 voter suppression law, which was signed into law just six months ago and which is still being challenged in court. Governor Sununu has opposed HB 372 and he would be wise to veto it if the bill makes it to his desk. We urge the governor to keep that promise for the sake of protecting the right to vote in the Granite State,” Woodburn added.

New Hampshire Democratic Party Chair, Ray Buckley blasted the Republicans in the Senate after they voted for this “Poll Tax”.

“Less than six months after Governor Sununu signed the last voter suppression bill into law, Republicans are at it again. Today, they voted for a bill that would create a de facto poll tax and redefine state residency. Once again, Republicans offered no evidence of voter fraud or rationale for disenfranchising eligible voters, instead relying on voter fraud lies propagated by President Trump and Governor Sununu.”

“This bill is only a priority for the elected politicians who stand to gain from disenfranchising voters who aren’t likely to vote for their reelection,” said Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote. “If every state passed a law like HB 372, college students may not be able to vote at all. Instead of including folks in their agenda who aren’t likely to vote Republican, the New Hampshire GOP has launched a sustained attack on the voting rights of groups who disagree with them. Governor Sununu already said he would never support anything that suppresses the student vote and that he opposes this bill. If HB 372 passes the House, Governor Sununu must make good on his promise. We’re opening a Let America Vote office in New Hampshire to make it clear to politicians like Senators Birdsell and Gray that if they make it harder to vote, we’re going to make it harder for them to get reelected.”

The bill now heads to Governor Sununu, who when asked about the bill last month said he “hates it” and “hoped the legislature would kill it.” Since the video was made public, Sununu’s opposition has wavered and has failed to confirm that he will veto the bill.

“At a time when our state needs to be attracting and retaining young people, It’s incredibly disheartening to see Republican leadership push Millennials away with bills like HB 372,” said New Hampshire Young Democrats Executive Director Amelia Keane. “Even Governor Sununu agrees that HB 372 ‘could result in the suppression of the vote‘ and ‘would never survive in court.’ Rather than focusing on these restrictive measures, we should be working towards modernizing and securing our elections.”

“We urge Governor Sununu to stay true to his word and veto HB 372,” Keane added.

NH State Senators Birdsell and Gray Named To ‘Voter Suppression Hall of Shame’

Kansas City, MO – Let America Vote today named New Hampshire State Senators Regina Birdsell and James Gray to its Voter Suppression Hall of Shame, a list of the country’s most active vote-suppressing politicians that Let America Vote will track in 2018 to fight back against any future efforts to make voting less accessible.

Senator Birdsell was the prime sponsor of SB 3 a bill that 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.

Now the voter suppression team of Senators Birdsell and Gray are pushing HB372 a bill that forces people to officially change their residency to NH in order to vote, creating a poll tax.  The bill is directly targeted at college students who, under state law, are allowed to register and vote in New Hampshire.

“The New Hampshire GOP passed a law last year that severely limits the voting rights of college students, but Senators Birdsell and Gray don’t think it went far enough,” said Jason Kander, President of Let America Vote. “HB 372, which is championed by Senators Birdsell and Gray, would create harsh restrictions for college students that would keep a huge number of them from voting altogether. They’re pioneers of this kind of voter suppression, which is why they belong in the Voter Suppression Hall of Shame. When Let America Vote expands to New Hampshire in 2018, we’ll make sure that these senators answer for stripping voting rights from their constituents.”

The list contains ten politicians from nine different states whom either introduced or supported politically-motivated legislation that would prevent targeted groups of the electorate from voting. The goals of the Hall of Shame are to expose the politicians for suppressing votes, call attention to their next elections, and educate voters on how to hold them accountable.

Birdsell and Gray join these other vote suppressors on the Voter Suppression Hall of Shame:

Kris Kobach, Kansas Secretary of State
Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State
John Merrill, Alabama Secretary of State
Paul Pate, Iowa Secretary of State
Connie Lawson, Indiana Secretary of State
Bob Thorpe,  Arizona State Representative
Juan Murante, Nebraska State Senator
Tim Moore,  North Carolina State Representative

 


Let America Vote launched in February 2017 to fight back against proposals across the country that make it harder for eligible voters to exercise their constitutional right to cast a ballot. Whether it’s extreme identification requirements, questionable purges of voter rolls, voter intimidation, new and extreme voter registration processes, or anything that makes voting harder, Let America Vote will be there to lead the way against it. Its president is Jason Kander, the former Missouri Secretary of State.

Election Law Changes Aimed At Blocking College Students From Voting In NH, Passes Senate Committee

Today, an amendment  to House Bill 372, authored by Republican Senators Regina Birdsell and Jim Gray, passed the Senate Election Law Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote. The bill would redefine “domicile” status for voting purposes, effectively forcing registrants to declare residency upon registering to vote, chilling the right to vote for college students in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Republicans have previously argued that their voter disenfranchisement laws, like SB3 which passed last spring, are not designed to disenfranchise college students. Birdsell, SB3’s author and an author of the amendment to HB 372, said last year“We are not targeting students.” Birdsell’s amendment to HB 372 would in fact use intimidation tactics to disenfranchise thousands of students attending college in New Hampshire.

“HB 372 serves one purpose: to drastically decrease student turnout on campuses across New Hampshire,” said University of New Hampshire sophomore Isabella Arms. “Thousands of students, like me, move to New Hampshire every year to learn and contribute to our communities, with the hope of staying here to start our careers. However every year, Republicans in Concord make it their priority to disenfranchise the exact group of people they need to attract and retain in order for our state to grow and thrive. The state benefits from students like us when it means getting more federal money or electoral clout, but they don’t think we count when it comes to voting for local issues that affect us, including preventing tuition hikes or investing in workforce training.

When Governor Sununu and Republican leadership raise our tuitions and make it more difficult for us to vote and take part in the democratic process, it’s hard to take them seriously as champions for my generation like they so often claim to be. I speak on behalf of many concerned Granite State students when I say we hope this bill is rejected when it comes to a full Senate vote,” Arms concluded.

“Senator Sanborn’s amendment to House Bill 372 is the New Hampshire GOP’s latest attempt to stop college students from voting,” said Let America Vote President Jason Kander. “Last session’s Senate Bill 3 is still in court, but that isn’t keeping Republicans from trying to further stop eligible New Hampshire voters from voting. When a college student registers to vote, they shouldn’t be threatened with possible legal penalties for how their car is registered. Voter registration should be a simple, straightforward process for all eligible Granite Staters. This is classic voter suppression, and it’s clearly a Republican priority to stop college students in New Hampshire from being able to vote in the state where they spend the most time. When Let America Vote opens its New Hampshire office next year, we’ll make sure that elected officials like Senator Sanborn have to answer for this.”

“For years, Republicans have been slowly eroding voting rights in New Hampshire. HB 372 would effectively disenfranchise thousands of legal Granite State voters,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party.  “New Hampshire Republicans like Governor Sununu and Senator Birdsell have been trying to trick New Hampshire voters into believing there is widespread voter fraud to create a pretext for voter disenfranchisement legislation that would help swing elections in their favor.”

Buckley added, “Granite Staters who care about their most fundamental right to make their voices heard should stand up and fight this bill until it disappears for good. We will not allow Trump, Sununu & Birdsell to strip away foundational democratic guarantees based on a lie designed to serve their political objectives.”

NH Voting Rights Coalition And Activists Demand Trump’s ‘Sham’ Election Commission Be Dismantled

Advocates call for ‘Hands Off Our Ballots’

MANCHESTER, NH – The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights – a broad range of progressive organizations and leaders fighting to advance voting rights – call for President Donald Trump’s ‘sham’ Election Integrity Commission to be dismantled following a day-long hearing focused on creating barriers to exercising American’s right to democracy – voting.

The commission’s meeting heard testimony from “election experts” and academics urging for the implementation of a background check system similar to the one used for handgun ownership falsely comparing physical safety and the ability to exercise one’s right to democracy. A background check system is just another ploy to create barriers to voting for the citizens of the United States.

“The jig is up. The commission meeting showed us clearly that it is not – and has never been – focused on expanding access to the ballot and ensuring every American has a right to vote,” said America Votes New Hampshire Political Director Michael O’Brien. “This is an orchestrated attempt to block access to the ballot and we demand New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner step down from the Election Integrity Commission. If Gardner continues on the commission after today, then he is agreeing that he does not support every eligible voter in New Hampshire and across the nation.”

Ahead of the hearing meeting, more than 200 grassroots local New Hampshire activists and advocates showed up to say, “Hey hey, ho ho Trump’s sham commission has got to go.

“The election commission meeting was designed to undermine America’s confidence in our elections and justify voter suppression,” said Executive Director of the ACLU New Hampshire Devon Chaffee. “The commission is co-led by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who the ACLU has successfully sued numerous times over his voter suppression policies. Through American history, propaganda about illegal voting has been used to push unnecessary restrictions, like background checks, on the right to vote. But attempts to shrink the voting power of everyday people is the true threat to our elections. We should be doing everything we can to encourage, rather than hinder, participation in our democracy.”

Across the country, advocates and activist fear Trump’s Election Integrity Commission is taking us backward as a country, not forward.

“It saddens me that in today’s age, we – as an entire community – are still facing many of the challenge of 1965,” said President of the Greater Manchester NAACP Rev. Eric Jackson. “We continue to be deeply saddened that our secretary of state, who is suppose to represent the interest of all Granite Staters, continues to create barriers to vote through his participation in Trump’s Election Integrity Commission.”

“President Trump’s commission is not about election integrity – it’s about disenfranchising voters so that he can win this next election,” said President of Let America Vote Jason Kander. “Trump’s commission is undermining faith in our democracy by spreading misinformation and injecting partisan politics into election administration. The commission shouldn’t exist, plan and simple. We should be doing everything possible to make election free, fair and accessible because when more people vote, our democracy is stronger. Let America Votes is glad to join our New Hampshire partners in protecting elections from bad policies of the Trump administration.”

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