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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.

Election Bill Creating Poll Tax, Residency Requirements Passes House Election Law Committee

SB179 would penalize New Hampshire voters
rather than improve elections

Concord, NH – Today the House Election Law Committee passed an elections bill along party lines (11-8) that creates unnecessary hurdles for New Hampshire voters by instituting an arbitrary vehicle registration “poll tax” and a 30-day residency requirement. The key features of SB 179, which also passed along party lines in the state Senate earlier this month (14-10), are likely unconstitutional at both the state and federal level.

The House Election Law Committee amended SB 179 to require voters to obtain a driver’s license and register their car in New Hampshire – a change that has no clear connection to maintaining the integrity of elections. New Hampshire’s constitution clearly states that “all elections are to be free,” and this amendment acts as a poll tax by charging engaged Granite Staters vehicle registration fees in order to vote.

Furthermore, SB 179 falls short of meeting the standards set in the United States Supreme Court case Dunn vs. Blumstein, which permitted up to a 30-day registration requirement in states that need it for administrative purposes. Given that New Hampshire is a same-day registration state, there is no compelling argument that the state’s election administration officials need the additional time.

“The sponsors of this legislation claim these restrictions will somehow stop voter fraud, but the proposed changes would penalize New Hampshire voters rather than help our elections,” explained League of Women Voters New Hampshire Election Law Specialist Joan Flood Ashwell. “There are many ways for voters to confirm their identity without forcing them to pay vehicle registration fees, and there are many ways to ensure they live in our state without a 30-day residency requirement. We can’t deny eligible voters the right to vote here in New Hampshire.”

Despite all evidence to the contrary, politicians continue to push restrictive election laws based on a false narrative of ‘phantom’ voters. New Hampshire attorney general investigations and a national Washington Post investigation** found that in-person voter impersonation and registration fraud is virtually non-existent.

America Votes-New Hampshire State Director Paula Hodges said, “SB 179 is one of more than a dozen dangerous bills proposed by radical lawmakers that would deter voters and undermine New Hampshire’s long-held tradition of streamlining voting. The various proposed bills range from eliminating same-day registration, to creating new inter-state cross-check programs that could purge thousands of eligible voters from the rolls. It’s clear these politicians are trying to influence elections by discouraging voters, and that’s wrong.”

“We urge the governor to veto SB 179 should it pass both chambers this year,” Hodges added.

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