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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.

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.”

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.”

CNN Allow Man Convicted Of Election Fraud To Spread Lies About Busloads Of Out-of-state Voters In NH

Screenshot from CNN video

There is a major problem in the 24 hour news media world.  They need to actually start reporting news and stop letting random people spew baseless accusations, and outright lies on cable television.

Take for example the recent CNN interview with Trump supporters.  The interview was intended to be about how Trump supporters feel about how Trump is doing now that he is President.  However, it did not go that way at all.

CNN explains the interview (VIDEO available at this link):

Despite President Donald Trump’s lack of evidence for his claim that millions of votes were cast illegally in last year’s election, some of his supporters are standing by the conspiracy theory.

A CNN “New Day” panel featured a handful of die-hard Trump backers to assess their views on his performance more than two months into his presidency.

One New Hampshire Trump voter, William Baer, said he saw “busloads of people” coming into New Hampshire to vote illegally. He did not provide specific details or evidence, but said he thought they were either undocumented immigrants or US citizens coming from other states.

When further pressed by CNN’s Alisyn Camerota, Baer said he can’t cite the busloads he’s seen and where he’s seen them, but said he saw them on television.

Josh Youssef, another New Hampshire voter on the panel, said he wouldn’t characterize it as “busloads and busloads” of people, but rather said he saw cars with out-of-state license plates full of people coming to vote, though he couldn’t provide any more details about them.

By allowing both of these men to outright lie about this, completely fabricated story of “busloads of people” from out of state voting in New Hampshire, on television just continues to provide validity to this outright lie.  The other thing that CNN either did not know, or forgot to mention, is that Josh Youssef was actually convicted of “election fraud” for his actions during the 2012 elections.

Miscellany Blue reported on this in 2013:

“The state determined that Youssef violated RSA 666:6 “by creating a blog that lead viewers to believe that it was in fact Ed Mosca’s blog or gave the false impression that Ed Mosca endorsed” his campaign.”

Lies like the magical busload of out of state voters is fueling the NH Legislature to push for new legislation like SB 3 that would strip people of their legal right to vote.

“Republican State Sen. Regina Birdsell, who represents Derry, Windham, and Hampstead, argued that voter law must be re-examined, especially strengthening residency requirements. “Our same-day registration laws have been opened up to the point that it’s basically a highway between Massachusetts and our polling places as far as I’m concerned,” Birdsell said.” (Eagle Tribune, December 4, 2016)

Granite State Progress, a New Hampshire based advocacy group,  is calling on Governor Chris Sununu and Republican State Senate and House leaders to stop feeding Trump and Birdsell’s claims of magic buses of voters by denouncing SB 3.

“Governor Sununu is enabling Trump to make these baseless claims, while Senate Republicans passed SB 3 based on this same damaging rhetoric even though Senate President Chuck Morse readily admits there is no problem. Politicians shouldn’t pass bills that jeopardize fundamental voting rights because of propaganda or the rants of sore losers,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “Sununu and Republican leaders in the Senate and House can prove they respect the integrity of New Hampshire’s elections by once and for all making it clear President Trump is off-base and that there is absolutely no wide-spread voter fraud here. Promoting SB 3 amounts to nothing more than feeding the hype and is a thinly veiled political attempt to target real Granite State voters who might vote differently than these politicians want.”

We all know that the only reason Republicans are pushing SB 3 and other voter suppression bills to make it harder for people to vote, lowering the overall vote count in the hopes of giving them an edge in elections.

We need our media outlets, like CNN, to spend less time talking with “so-called experts” and more time doing real investigative journalism. We need them to do more research on the people they are putting on screen and doing more to ensure their lies are not allowed to make it to air.

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