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New SB 3 Amendment Could Sent Vigilantes To Verify Residency

Amended Version of SB 3 Much Worse Than Original Bill, Still Sends Police to Voter Doors and Now Authorizes Vigilantes Too

In a rushed amendment vote, Senate Republicans try to replace section of bill that caused largest public outcry but instead leave same result and 10x worse 

Concord, NH – The NH Senate Election Law committee amended SB 3 on Tuesday to remove sending police to voter doors by name, but the amended version uses covert language to still actually allow the supervisor of the checklist to send police to your door – and now goes even further by allowing them to deputize the local town conspiracy theorist or vigilante group to do it as well.

There’s a section in the amended SB 3, as passed by Senate Republicans on the Election Law Committee yesterday, that states “agents” can be sent to voter doors to verify that they live there. There is no limit on who can be designated an agent for this purpose, nor are there any provisions for proper training or how to conduct these checks; an open carry activist or an individual ideologically opposed to college students voting could be among those deputized.

In the latest version of SB 3 the following was removed: “Requesting local law enforcement during their routine patrols to visit the address and verify that the individual was domiciled there on election day” and the bill language modified from “Requesting 2 or more supervisors or other municipal officials to visit the address and verify that the individual was domiciled there on election day” to “Requesting 2 or more supervisors or municipal, county, or state election officers or their agents to visit the address and verify that the individual was domiciled  there on election day.” (SB 3 Amendment #2017-0978s, Senate Election Law Executive Session on Tuesday, March 21, 2017)

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“SB 3 has been poorly written from the start but this latest amendment makes it ten times worse. Senate Republicans attempted to quiet public outcry over the provision of sending police officers to voter doors but in doing so they passed an amendment that actually allows that and more. Under the amended version, checklist supervisors can still send law enforcement or they can deputize others to conduct the checks, which could include deputizing voter suppression activists or even vigilante groups. In fact, there are now no limits whatsoever on whom they could send. It is shameful that Senate Republicans took credit during committee for removing the police officer provision by name while simultaneously opening the back door for the same activity and worse. SB 3 is nothing more than an attack on voting rights. It creates a poll tax by requiring financial transactions for many of the verifiable acts listed, and it penalizes voters $5,000 for being a day late with paperwork even if they did nothing wrong when registering to vote. In the hours-long public hearing, testimony highlighted that the bill will disproportionately impact eligible voters including students, low-income people, homeless veterans, and domestic violence survivors. New Hampshire politicians have many more pressing issues to deal with than needlessly attacking voting rights with harmful bills like SB 3.” 

Senate Republicans offered the amendment in committee Tuesday morning and called a vote less than 30 minutes later, denying Senate Democrats and voting rights advocates an opportunity to review the language and provide feedback prior to the vote. It is unclear whether the poorly written amendment was intentional or a result of Senate Republicans jamming the bill forward without regard for public input or voter impact.

Good And Bad News On Senator Lasky’s Bills To Make The Voting Process Easier

This week the Senate held two votes on legislation submitted by Senator Bette Lasky to expand access and ease the voting process.

The first SB 113, which passed the Senate with a voice vote, would allow cities and towns to “conduct a trial of electronic poll book devices for voter registration and check-in for elections.” This would simplify check in procedures as the lists would continually be updated through an online database.

“I’m thrilled that the Senate has taken this pragmatic step forward in modernizing our election process. New Hampshire prides itself on a tradition of strong citizen participation in elections. But we also know that high voter turnout can create long lines at the polls. We must do everything we can to ensure that voting is accessible and efficient for everyone,” said Senator Lasky.

“This pilot program gives communities the opportunity to test electronic poll books in upcoming elections in the hope that this resource will help election workers process voters more quickly and ensure that busy Granite Staters have every opportunity to participate. The program also provides enhanced protections against fraud, and the increased efficiency provided by this technology also helps free up election workers to move more quickly through their post-election responsibilities.” 

Several states have successfully adopted the electronic poll book system. Proponents of the program cite the tool’s ability to help election workers access a statewide voter database to quickly look up and identify eligible voters, redirect individuals who are in the wrong polling location to the correct polling site, scan a driver’s license and sign in electronically, and reduce wait times at high traffic polling locations. Access to increased information also helps prevent against voter fraud.

The second, SB 194, was killed by Republicans in party line vote. The bill would have authorized online voter registration in New Hampshire. When tied with electronic poll books, voters could register online and then go vote without having to wait in long lines at the polling place.  Typically the longest line in a polling place is those registering to vote.   

“Making the process of registering to vote and casting your ballot more secure and accessible is something we should all be able to agree on,” said Lasky.Allowing our citizens to register to vote online would help make the process more efficient and increase the number of citizens exercising one of their most important rights. I remain confused as to why Republicans continue to block legislation that makes voting more accessible to the people of New Hampshire.” 

38 states have already implemented online voter registration. Research shows that the convenience of online voter registration greatly increases registration and participation.

This is only the first in a long line of proposed legislation that affects our voting process.  The Governor and Republican leadership are pushing for “stronger Voter ID” laws, which have been proven to lower turnout and disenfranchise voters.  They are also considering eliminating same day voter registration.  

Ending same day voter registration and blocking online voter registration could result in a drastic drop in voter participation, especially in Presidential election years.  Then again, maybe that is what Republicans want, as records show that higher turnout elections tend to favor Democrats.  

Hundreds Turn Out To Oppose SB3 An Attack On Voting Rights

Yesterday, over two hundred voters and dozens of Granite Staters testified for hours against Senate Bill 3, which as amended, will disenfranchise thousands of young people across New Hampshire if enacted. Representative Isaac Epstein (D-Dover),  a Young Democrat who serves on the House Election Law Committee, issued the following statement:

“New Hampshire does not have a problem with voter fraud, but as the Speaker and the Secretary of State have said, we do have a problem with perceptions of voter fraud. For years some on the right have stoked fears about phantom fraud, and now that the Governor and the President have repeated absurd allegations about fake buses on the heels of Donald Trump’s false accusations. The NHGOP is using a rhetoric of phantom fraud to altar our unique voting system in New Hampshire.”

“If there really is a problem with our voting system, the best way to address it would be to enact SB197, and give the Attorney General’s office the resources it needs to properly investigate perceptions of fraud and enforce our current election law.”

“New Hampshire’s real problem is attracting and retaining young people. We need young people who move here for permanent and temporary jobs to power our economy and fall in love with everything that makes the Granite State great. Banning thousands of young people from participation in our vibrant civic culture is both counterproductive and unconstitutional.”

After the hearing NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:

“Today we heard arguments in favor of SB3, the election law bill that would, among other things, allow police officers to knock on your door and check your papers after election day to see if you voted legally. This is a wild overreach and a violation of our right to privacy, something the Live Free or Die state holds dear. It is all in service of a broader effort by Republicans across the country to make voting more cumbersome, frustrating, and in some cases, downright impossible.

Here in New Hampshire, Republicans have tried every trick in the book, from spreading the lie that Massachusetts residents were bused over the border to vote, to phone jamming, to falsifying election documents, to voter intimidation tactics like forcing those who forget their ID to sign an affidavit and have a picture taken of them at the polls. These practices create confusion, apathy, and massive lines, depress turnout, and create headaches for poll workers. This will disproportionately affect same day voters and young voters, both of which are groups that historically vote Democrat. That’s exactly what Republicans want.

In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker passed a voter ID law that left as many as 300,000 without the proper identification to vote. At the DMV, officials gave out false information to voters. In North Carolina, a voter ID law was struck down by the courts for targeting African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” In Florida, Governor Rick Scott stripped formerly incarcerated people of their voting rights. What’s happening in New Hampshire isn’t just an attack on the state, it’s attack on voters across the country. We should recognize it for what it is and stop it before we no longer have a voice.”

AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin: Dues Deduction, Voting Rights, And The NH Retirement System

Bow, NH

March 3, 2017

This past week the House was once again, not in session, while House committees finished work on a tidal wave of bills, which will hit the House floor for votes beginning Wednesday, March 8. Still, even without the House in full session, there were some interesting developments, including some good news! March 9th is the last day for the House to act on house bills not referred to a second committee. March 16th is the last day to act on all bills going to a second committee except budget bills. In addition, the last day for budget bills to be acted upon is April 6th.

HB 438: banning public sector voluntary payroll deduction of union dues: This bill, a companion piece to so-called ‘right to work,’ was sponsored by nearly the entire Republican leadership team, headed by Majority Leader Dick Hinch. The defeat of so-called ‘right to work’ in the House some two weeks ago, however, signaled the death knell for this unwanted piece of legislation as well. On Wednesday morning, before a hearing room crowded with working people opposed to HB 438, Labor Committee Chair Steve Schmidt proposed to cut the hearing short and in turn, would take immediate steps to ensure “death with dignity” for HB 438 by having the committee ‘retain’ the bill. Democrats agreed to this approach but only after asking the Chairman to repeat his promise to ensure the bill is not resurrected. With such assurances, the Labor Committee voted 20-0 to retain the bill.

What does this mean? HB 438 will stay with the Labor Committee for 2017, and at the end of the year, the Committee will vote to recommend the bill be sent to “interim study.” That motion will then go to the House and presumably be accepted, meaning the bill will remain under study until the end of 2018, when the legislative session ends and the Committee recommends “no further legislative action.” Yes, a quiet way to kill a bill, a bill for which not a single one of its sponsors had the temerity to appear before the Labor Committee to present at the start of Wednesday’s hearing. So, while it is sounds complicated, even Republican leadership has now decided to consign HB 438 to the same graveyard as the 30+ versions of so-called ‘right to work’ defeated in NH since the 1970s.

Education: The most controversial educational issue currently in front of the NH Legislature is that of vouchers. As previously noted, SB 193 would establish a full-blown voucher system in NH, taking taxpayer money and placing it in individual accounts for parents to expend at any charter, private or religious school. Good news for parents who already voluntarily choose to educate their children in that manner, bad news for the taxpayers who will face higher property tax bills to maintain public school facilities, programs and support systems. Put simply, money going to vouchers is taxpayer money funneled away from public schools and into the private sector, creating subsidies for a small portion of the population and imposing greater burdens on the majority. Not good policy, but both SB 193 and a smaller House version, HB 647, have passed their first test in their respective chamber and are now under consideration in the Finance Committees. So, there will be further action and the need for our membership and allies to take action once we determine next steps as these bills work their way through the respective finance committees.

HB 210 which is the bill regarding establishing a code of ethics for educational personnel is slated for a vote by the House on March 9th. This bill has been recommended Ought to Pass with Amendment. This bill requires the NH Board of Education to promulgate rules on or before July 1, 2018.   The bill as amended requires the rules shall address “shall address four key certified educator responsibilities that include responsibility to: (1) the students, (2) the educator profession and professional colleagues, (3) the school community, and (4) the use of technology as it relates to students, professional colleagues and the school community.” Adam Marcoux, Nashua Teachers’ Union President and I have been serving on the Department of Education Advisory Committee on this issue and we have argued that such matters need to remain in the control of the local school districts. We have advocated vigorously for the voices of teachers to be heard on this matter and to avoid unnecessary top down regulation. We will remain vigilant throughout this process.

Voting Rights: Two bills, SB 3 and HB 372, would restrict or narrow the definition of ‘domicile’ in relation to the right to vote or to register to vote. These bills are aimed at the fictional hordes of campaign workers who supposedly flood into NH to vote in November, or the fictional busloads of Massachusetts residents who President Trump believes voted illegally in NH. The real intent of the proposed legislation is to make it more difficult to vote, particularly for those who have only recently moved to a town or who lack a long-established permanent domicile. HB372 will be coming to the House floor within the next week or two, while SB3 is still in committee. Both bills will need to be monitored closely and will likely be subject to grassroots action against passage. Remember, democracy can only flourish when voting rights are kept sacrosanct, and when there is no evidence of voter fraud, one can only wonder at the motives of those who seek to limit and restrict those who can vote. Without the right to vote, the voice of the people cannot be heard, and if it cannot be heard, then the rights and lives of working people and working families will only suffer.   

Our work continues in protecting our NH Retirement System and promoting HB 413 which would bring much needed retirement dollars from the state back to our local communities. Much like the issue of funding for full-day kindergarten, these measures are now being reviewed through the House Finance Committee.

And, please mark Tuesday, March 14th on your calendar—it is Town Election Day. You can make a real difference in your community. We have important AFT-NH local contracts being presented to voters in the following school districts: Farmington, Hillsboro-Deering, Newfound, Raymond and Timberlane. Also, in Raymond, there are two questions on the school ballot addressing outsourcing of school cafeteria jobs to a for profit company. 100% of these café employees live in Raymond! We are asking voters to vote No on Article 9 and Yes on Article 10.

We also need to make sure responsible budgets are approved to fund our schools and provide essential public services. If for some reason you will be unavailable to vote on March 14, please make sure to go to your town hall and vote by absentee ballot. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Breaking news and other important information will be posted at AFT-NH FACEBOOK. Please be sure to like us.

Thank you for staying engaged and speaking out on these very important issues.

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

New Hampshire Campaign on Voting Rights Condemns Rollbacks of Citizen’s Voting Rights

Modernization, not rollbacks, key for engaging voters, ensuring security 

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Campaign on Voting Rights condemns attempts by New Hampshire politicians to rollback the voting rights of New Hampshire voters.

New Hampshire politicians have proposed an unprecedented number of bills this legislative session stripping voters of rights, making voter registration more difficult, and changing same-day registration. Bill sponsors point to voter fraud as a justification for these rollbacks, however modernization not rollbacks are needed to improve the security and integrity of our voting system. Republicans in Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner are confident and agree that voter fraud is not a widespread problem.

These rollbacks are another ploy to disengage voters from the political system, stripping them of their right to vote, a right provided to them as citizens of this country. 

The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights urges state legislators to consider common sense reforms that will save taxpayer dollars and make the system more secure, if  they wish to examine New Hampshire’s election system:

1.      Implement a closed, secure online voter registration system connected to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle database;

2.      Implement a closed, secure digital poll book system that saves taxpayer dollars and saves communities time;

3.      Support SB 197 to fund the attorney general’s Department of Justice to complete outstanding voter investigations rather than expand police power to the New Hampshire secretary of state.

“When politicians push bills that put limits on voter registration, they are infringing on the constitutional right of all eligible residents in New Hampshire to participate in our elections,” said New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights spokesperson Huck Montgomery. “It is in all of our interest to have the most secure and efficient voter registration system.” 

Thirty-nine states have adopted online voter registration while six others have automatic voter registration. Thirty-one states use digital poll books. In a national survey of dozens of election officials in 29 states “there was unanimity that electronic and online registration reduces costs.”

Leo W Gerard: Goon-Busters Prepare For Trump’s Poll Trolls

Republicans have conjured for Americans a monster more frightening than any Hollywood has ever produced for Halloween. It pales “The Shining.”

It is a two-headed beast Donald Trump calls voter fraud and rigged elections.  Like Hollywood creatures, though, this goblin is completely imaginary. It’s fake like the sasquatch and chupacabra. There’s no scientific evidence of its existence.

The GOP antidote for its imaginary monster is horribly real, however. It is voter suppression and intimidation. That is a tangible two-headed beast of appalling proportions. Fearing they could not win fair and square, Republicans took steps to prevent young, old, black and Hispanic people – people likely to vote Democratic – from reaching the polls. This GOP Frankenstein threatens democracy itself.

2016-10-30-1477842084-1921291-Trumpkin.jpg

Image by Ryan Merkley on Flickr

Two statistics are important to know when trying to detect which election monsters are real and which are not. Loyola Law School professor Justin Levitt, an expert on civil rights, has tracked allegations of in-person voter fraud for years. In-person fraud is the kind Republicans are talking about, someone pretending to be someone else, or a dead person, to vote.

Levitt, who is on leave from the law school to serve as deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, tracked down and validated 31 instances of that happening since 2000.

It’s probably 32 cases now, since police in Iowa charged a 55-year-old Des Moines woman Thursday with felony voter fraud. The Republican admitted casting two early votes for Donald Trump.

That is 32 cases out of more than 1 billion ballots cast. That’s fraud, but it’s not a real problem.

Republicans across the country insisted on “solving” this non-problem by forcing all voters to obtain very specific types of identification. In Texas, for example, the GOP said an open-carry gun permit would be fine, but a student ID card from a state university would not. That would help keep those pesky young people, who tended to vote Democrat, away from the polls.

In many states, civil liberties groups like the ACLU sued to overturn the voter ID laws, forcing the GOP to search for voter fraud cases to justify their legislation. In Pennsylvania, the state had to stipulate in court that none existed, and the law was overturned. Not surprisingly, the GOP failed to dig up cases in Wisconsin or Indiana either. Thirty-one in 1 billion is kind of few and far between.

The second statistic is this: if Pennsylvania’s voter ID law had taken effect, it could have prevented more than 1 million citizens from voting. That’s the number of registered voters in just one state who did not have the required ID. Again, that’s a state where Republicans could show not one single case of voter fraud.

While the ACLU and other civil liberties groups continue to try to overturn unnecessary voter ID laws, the Democratic National Committee asked a federal judge last week to prevent Republicans from intimidating voters, particularly at minority polling places, as Donald Trump has encouraged his supporters to do.

The Democrats requested an injunction, saying Trump’s threats violate a 1982 consent decree that Republicans entered into after they stationed pseudo-guards at minority polling places in New Jersey to intimidate voters. Some of the guards were off duty police officers, were armed and wore arm bands marked “Ballot Security Task Force.”

Trump has repeatedly contended the election is “rigged” against him and asked his supporters to wear red shirts and stand as sentinels at the polls to prevent dead people from voting. Speaking in Altoona, Pa., in August, he said he wanted uniformed officers like the GOP had in 1982: “We have to call up law enforcement. And we have to have the sheriffs and the police chiefs and everybody watching.”

He added, “We have a lot of law enforcement people working that day. . .We’re hiring a lot of people. We’re putting a lot of law enforcement — we’re going to watch Pennsylvania, go down to certain areas and watch and study, and make sure other people don’t come in and vote five times.”

“Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio. “I’ll look for. . .well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans, Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them, I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”

Despite Webb’s assertion that he’s not going to do anything illegal, deliberately attempting to make racially profiled voters “a little bit nervous” while they are attempting to exercise their most basic right as citizens violates federal law as well as the terms of the consent decree.

In addition, the lawsuit notes that the Pennsylvania GOP has attempted to reverse a state election law requiring poll watchers to be registered voters in the county where they are monitoring balloting. That law makes it impossible for Trump’s rural white supporters to guard the polls in inner city Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to ensure that the undead from George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” filmed near Pittsburgh, don’t vote repeatedly there.

There’s no reason to reverse this state law, the lawsuit says, except to license Trump supporters to intimidate and harass minority inner-city voters.

Republicans tried to wriggle out from under the constraints of the consent decree in 2009. But Federal Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise thwarted them. He wrote then: “It does not appear that the RNC’s incentive to suppress minority votes has changed since 1982. It appears that the RNC has been largely unsuccessful in its efforts to attract minority voters. Until it is able to do so, it will have an incentive to engage in the type of voter suppression that it allegedly committed in the actions that led to the enactment and modification of the consent decree.”

Judge Debevoise dismissed GOP arguments that voter fraud is a problem. By contrast, he said that suppression of minority voters is a serious issue.

That was seven years ago. But it was a point the DNC repeated in its arguments last week. It acknowledged that Trump keeps harping about a rigged election and dead people voting. And it provided lengthy proof that these are fears without basis in fact. They are boogeymen.

“On the other side of the ledger,” the DNC wrote, are the “constitutional rights of all Americans to cast their ballots without fear of intimidation or harassment . . .This is therefore a case of a real, impending harm balanced against an imaginary one.”

The DNC asked the court to extend the consent decree another eight years and to issue an injunction forbidding intimidation at the polls. Election Day is just a week away, however. Even if the court rules for the DNC, it’s not clear that every Trump supporter with a red shirt, a gun and ill-intent will hear about the decision before Nov. 8.

So civil liberties groups are preparing for the worst. If a red-shirted goon shows up at your polling place, call the ACLU at 866-OUR-VOTE or the Department of Justice Voting Rights Hotline at 800-253-3931. They have goon-buster teams nationwide. Don’t let anything frighten you from voting on Nov. 8.

National Civil Rights Organizations Ramp Up Election Protection 2016 to Protect Voting Rights

Washington, D.C. – With the 2016 general election just one month away, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, is ramping up its efforts to safeguard voting rights across the country. Multiple states have attempted to impose severe restrictions on the right to vote.  While courts have batted down many of these efforts to limit the franchise, the confusion surrounding recent rulings and the lack of accurate information could disrupt voting this election cycle. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is spearheading Election Protection’s efforts to protect voters this election cycle, using hotlines, field monitors and voter education, as well as its expansive network of national partners and state advocates, to respond to any questions or concerns voters may have.

“The 2016 presidential election cycle makes clear that voting discrimination and voter suppression continues to rear its ugly ahead across our country,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Election Protection and its central 866-OUR-VOTE hotline are available to help voters nationwide to overcome the barriers that stand between them and the ballot box.  Our goal through the Election Protection program is to ensure that all voters are able to exercise the most important right in our democracy.”

Specifically, the program will address:

How recent voting changes have the potential to impact the 2016 election: Although officials in numerous states have proposed measures that would increase the efficiency and inclusiveness of voting procedures, introducing measures such as automatic voter registration, others have turned back the clock on the voting process. Voters in 14 states face new voting restrictions, several of which have drastically impact minority voters. Courts have successfully struck down some of these regulations, but the threat to equal access to the ballot box remains. Election Protection is particularly concerned about the following:

  • Implementation of voter ID laws and recent court decisions concerning voter ID like North Carolina, Texas and Wisconsin
  • Voter registration issues in Georgia and Ohio
  • Improper challenges and voter intimidation at the polls

How pollworkers, volunteers, and voters can combat challenges to voting rights: Pollworkers, volunteers, and fellow voters are best able to gauge situations unfolding at polling places on Election Day. Ultimately, this group forms the first line of defense in ensuring voting rights for eligible voters, and Election Protection aims to equip them with the resources and information they need to do so. In the weeks leading up to November 8, Election Protection will continue training volunteers nationwide to monitor Election Day activities and will provide detailed analyses and explanations pertaining to the latest legal decisions on state-specific voting laws.

How minority voters can exercise their right to vote: Given that this year’s election will be the first without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, it’s essential that voters who have historically faced discrimination at the polls can fulfill their civic duty without fear of intimidation. Election Protection simplifies the voting process by offering three nonpartisan voter helplines where trained volunteers are available to address voters’ questions or problems with voter registration, early voting, voter I.D. requirements and other related voting issues to ensure that every vote counts. Voters can seek answers to their questions through the hotlines at the following times:

  • Toll-free English-language hotline: The Lawyers’ Committee’s 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) is currently staffed live on weekdays from 10 a.m-6 p.m. EST and will expand hours and days as Election Day nears.
  • Toll-free Spanish-language hotline: NALEO’s 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) is live year-round.
  • Toll-free Asian-language hotline: Voters needing assistance during election season in various Asian languages can call and leave a message to AAJC and APIAVote’s 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683), and a volunteer will return their call.

“Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy, yet not all citizens have equal access to voting,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.  “Asian Americans face a number of barriers that impedes our access to the ballot box. The challenges of discriminatory voting laws and lack of access to in-language voter resources are just a few of the obstacles that contribute to lower civic engagement and keep our community from exercising its full political power.”

“For the first time in more than 50 years, Latino voters will cast ballots in a presidential election without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act,” said Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund executive director.  “With more than 13.1 million Latino voters expected to make their voices heard at the ballot box this year, the Latino electorate will play a decisive role in the race for the White House and contests nationwide.  NALEO Educational Fund will be here for the Latino community in the lead up to Election Day, working tirelessly on the ground and through our toll-free bilingual hotline 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) to ensure Latino voters have the information necessary to vote and a resource to report any problems they may experience at the polls.”

“As we head into to the first presidential election since 1965 without the full protection of the Voting Rights Act, the 888-API-VOTE hotline is even more critical to protect and serve our electorate,” said Christine Chen, Executive Director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote). “This election hotline not only provides AAPI voters essential in-language assistance, it ensures that all voters, regardless of proficiency in English, will have equitable access to the ballot box. This is especially important as we know from polling that turnout of limited English proficient voters in 2012 was 9 percent lower than English proficient voters. Our voter education and protection efforts across the country are amplifying this hotline through the elections to ensure equity for our communities at the ballot box.”

About Election Protection

Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

Troubling The Ashes: A Tale Desegregation In Governor Wallace’s Alabama

Troubling the Ashes_CoverI just finished reading a wonderful new book, Troubling the Ashes, that highlights the Civil Rights Movement in the Deep South.  The fictional story follows the life of a white woman, Marley, and her family, living through the turbulent times of the 1960’s.

Marley’s husband Winston was offered a job as a football coach in the small town of Natasugla, Alabama. The town was still reeling from when the school was burned to the ground just two years prior. Curious about what happened to the school, the school principle, Hunter,  tells the story of how the school was burned down to prevent the black children from the nearby town of Tuskegee from being allowed to attend.

Hunter told them about the first day students from Tuskegee came to Natasugla. He told them of how the mob of segregationists beat a white photographer in the streets for supporting the integration all while the county sheriff watched.

Marley and Winston eventually decided to stay and raise their own children in Natasula. The next few years are filled with attacks, false accusations, and the KKK.  Marley, Winston and a growing group of “public school supporters” work together to lessen the racial tensions that erupted over the past few years always hoping that one day they would be gone forever.

Shirley Aaron, author of Troubling the Ashes, does a masterful job of weaving the fiction characters and historical events.  At times the book reads more like a historical autobiography than a work of fiction.

The release of this book could not be prudent as some have noted the eerie similarities between Governor George Wallace and Republican Presidential Candidate, Donald Trump.  While many political pundits on the right claim that racism and segregation ended with the passage of the Civil Rights Act, it is simply not true.

According to a new Pew Research Study, 61% of Americans believe that changes must be made in order to achieve racial equality.  It also reveals that black-white gaps in social and economic well-being persist across several measures. So how far have we come?

Shirley Aaron, author of Troubling the Ashes

Shirley Aaron, author of Troubling the Ashes

“Of course, we’ve seen many great changes since the turbulent 1960’s,” says Aaron. “But racism still lingers in closets, under beds, and inside the mind. Today, it just wears a different mask.”

With the current rise of the Black Lives Matter movement many Americans are learning that systemic racism still hinders blacks from getting a quality education, a good paying job, and that blacks are routinely targeted by law enforcement.

George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Troubling the Ashes is the prefect way to stop and look back to see how far we have come in the last fifty years only to see that there is more work to be done.

NH Senate Votes Down Online Voter Registration

Concord, NH –Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) released the following comments after the Senate voted down SB 507, authorizing online voter registration.

“I’m disappointed that my Senate colleagues did not support what was originally good, bipartisan legislation. SB 507 would have made registering to vote more consistent and accessible, while lessening the burden of same-day registration on our municipalities,” said Senator Lasky. “Allowing our citizens to register to vote online would have helped to create a more accessible system and increased the number of citizens exercising one of our most important rights.” 

23 states have already implemented online voter registration and 5 more states will be added to that list this year. Research has also shown in these states that online voter registration has sustained or increased voter registration.  

“New Hampshire has built a strong reputation for voter participation, but we can always do more to help busy Granite Staters take part in our elections. New Hampshire needs to continually move forward as technology advances and find new and creative ways to make voting more accessible. I am very disappointed that the Senate killed a bill that would have created a more effective and efficient election process for our Granite State citizens.” 


See also the statement from the New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights.


NH Senate Democrats Blast Republicans For Passing Bill To Restrict Voting Rights

Senate Democrats’ Statement on Passage of Unconstitutional Legislation to Restrict Voter Rights 

CONCORD — Senator Bette Lasky, Senator David Pierce and Senator Molly Kelly condemned the passage of Senate Bill 4, which imposes an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote. Senate Bill 4 as amended by the Senate is identical to Senate Bill 179, which was vetoed by Governor Hassan in 2015.

“As we have been stating since last year, this legislation will only serve to further complicate the voting process for New Hampshire citizens. SB 4 proposes a new standard for what constitutes a domicile that is more confusing and less concise than the current law,” said Sen. Bette Lasky. “Voters need consistency and clarity in their voting laws and this bill fails that test. It is unfortunate that our Republican colleagues continue to push legislation that discourages and disenfranchises our citizens from exercising their fundamental right to vote.”

In 1972, the Supreme Court clearly ruled in Dunn v. Blumstein that durational residency requirements for voting in state and local elections were unconstitutional.  

“I am disappointed to see my Republican colleagues support such legislation even though the Supreme Court has been clear on this issue,” said Sen. David Pierce. “These unconstitutional assaults on our constituents’ right to vote in free and fair elections have got to stop. Unfortunately, the Republican majority continues to push these attacks to disenfranchise Constitutionally-eligible voters in order to produce election results that are more to their liking.”

“Unlike other states, New Hampshire’s Constitution explicitly guarantees the equal right of every citizen to vote,” said Sen. Molly Kelly. “As we approach the 100th anniversary of our cherished First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary, we should be encouraging all eligible citizens to vote instead of making the process more confusing and disenfranchising Constitutionally-eligible voters.”

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