Voter intimidation leads voter suppression and that leads to people losing their voice in our democracy.
The New Hampshire House is now considering a bill, SB 3, that was forced through the Senate, straight down party lines, would make it harder for people to vote.
For years the Republican Party has been pushing to “strengthen” our voting laws. By “strengthening” I mean they are trying to block typically Democratic voters from being able to exercise their Constitutional right to vote.
Research shows that in higher turnout elections Democrats do better. So Republicans will do anything to keep the voter turn out small in an effort to gain a political advantage.
First they passed the restrictive Voter ID law requiring every voter have a valid New Hampshire ID in order to vote.
Now they are working to change the “domicile” language to protect New Hampshire elections from they myth of voter fraud.
Much of this voter fraud debate has stemmed from the false accusations by Donald Trump, and echoed by Governor Chris Sununu, that “busloads” of voters are being brought into New Hampshire from Massachusetts to sway our elections. Trump, Sununu, and the entire NH Republican Party are using the sheer number of same-day voter registrations as the basis for their claim of voter fraud.
SB 3 requires new voters to show proof of their “domicile” by providing supporting documentation like a utility bill with their name and address on it.
This alone is difficult for college students who live in the dormitories, as their mailbox is not specific to where they reside on campus.
Does this minor detail enough to confuse a college student about their eligibility to vote? Is this enough to keep them from voting entirely?
Proponents of the bill say that all you need to do is sign the form and then return to the town hall with proper documentation within 10 days. If you fail to do this, you could be subject to fines or possible jail time. The town may even send someone to you home to verify your address. At one point the Senate wanted to send armed police officers to your house if you filed a domicile affidavit.
So why are so many people against this bill?
For starters, the GOP are attempting to solve a problem that does not exist. They are spreading wild accusations that out of staters coming to NH on Election Day to vote. Over the last decade there has only been 2 cases of voter fraud out of thousands and thousands of ballots cast.
They are trying to suppress the vote through intimidation and threat of jail time for those who register to vote on Election Day. Our domicile laws are pretty straight forward now: If you are domiciled in New Hampshire on Election Day you can vote in local elections. This means that students at UNH can claim NH as their domicile and vote in NH elections.
Republicans continue to say that they one want people to vote who “have a stake in the community.” Are Republicans trying to say that a college student who lives in NH, attends school in NH, and works in NH for more than nine months of the year, does not have a stake in the community?
Both parties should be working on expanding access to the polls not restricting it. We should make it easier for people to register to vote by tying voter registrations to driver’s licenses and allowing people to register to vote online. This alone could reduces long lines at polling places and is much easier to track that paper copies.
But because Republicans really only want to rig the system for their own gain, they refuse to make online registration available.
Intimidating voters and attempting to suppress the vote is the foundation of SB 3 and that is why our elected representatives must reject this harmful piece of legislation.