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Stop Lying About Non Existent Voter Fraud In New Hampshire

“Voter fraud is rampant in New Hampshire elections.  Busloads of people are coming from Massachusetts to vote in our elections.”  

Trump said it. Governor Chris Sununu said it. Right wing advocates said it. So it must be true, right?

No.  Nationally over the past 16 years there has only been 35 cases of voter fraud out of the more than one billion ballots cast. This includes the four cases of voter fraud in the 2016 election.

Of course right-wing extremists need a new way to suppress voter turnout and disenfranchise voters in the hopes that their new Voter ID laws and “domicile” mandates will keep left leaning voters from the ballot box.

This week, Trump’s Voting Integrity commission will be meeting in New Hampshire on Tuesday September 12th.  Prior to his visit to NH, Kris Kobach posted an Op-Ed in Breitbart claiming that Senator Maggie Hassan only won because thousands of people with out-of-state licenses voted in the NH election.

Kobach is doing three things with this statement:

  1. He is perpetuating the lie that “busloads of out-of-state voters” are coming to NH to vote.
  2. Trying to make a case against “same-day voter registration,”  a right-wing priority item for years.
  3. Showing his complete ignorance to our voting laws.

A litany of people from both sides of the aisle have pushed back on this claim that “busloads of out-of-state voters” voted in the election, including: Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewindowski, Former NHGOP Chair Fergus Cullen, Former NH Attorney General Tom Rath, NH Assistant Attorney General Brian Buonamano, and even New Hampshire’s own Secretary of State, Bill Gardner denied these claims.

Claims of voter fraud have also been debunked by PolitifactFactCheck.orgWashington PostNew York Times, and the Boston Globe.

The right-wing has been working hard for decades to make it harder for people to vote.  They have been eyeing same-day voter registration for many years.  There is no denying that thousands of Granite Staters use this to register on voting day.  Typically these are young people who move a lot or are not generally involved in politics until major elections, like the Presidential election.

Of course these people tend to vote democratic and that is why the right-wing has been pushing to eliminate it.  If we had an easier way like, motor-voter registration or online voter registrations, there would more than likely be a significant drop in same-day voter registration. This would also greatly reduce the long lines in polling places that can dissuade eligible voters from casting their ballots.

Kobach clearly does not understand our voting laws.  In fact, he is confusing people about what is legal and what is “voter fraud.”  There is no legal requirement for a voter to have a NH drivers license or to register your car to vote in New Hampshire.

Dean Spilioties, civic scholar in the School of Arts and Sciences at Southern New Hampshire University, explained to NH Public Radio exactly how NH’s voting laws are written.

“Under the law, you can be domiciled here for purposes of voting but be a resident of another state… Where the out-of-state licenses were typically used is typically places like Durham, Hanover, Manchester. So those folks, if you’re a college student, you know, from an out-of-state – enrolled in a New Hampshire university or college, you are perfectly within the law to register to vote on election day or whenever with your out-of-state driver’s license and there’s no requirement that you then upgrade that license to a New Hampshire license at any time.”

NHPR’s News Director Dan Barrick agreed with Spilioties and added, “So there’s absolutely no evidence that, of those 5,000 plus people who voted with an out-of-state license… cast illegal ballots. There’s absolutely no evidence of that at all. And any implication is just really irresponsible.”

The Washington Post followed up on Kobach’s statement and spoke with NH college students who legally voted with an out-of-state drivers license.

“I was a student at Saint Anselm College in Manchester until I graduated this past May, and because I spent most of my time in the state I felt it was right I vote there instead of my native state of New York,” said Patrick Derenze, 22, who used his New York ID to vote.

New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner was tapped to be a part of Trump’s voting integrity commission, however many people are calling for him to leave the commission now as it has become evident that the commission is about finding evidence to prove the false statement that America has a voter fraud problem.

All four of New Hampshire’s elected Congressional Representatives are calling for Gardner to step down from the commission.

“Kris Kobach is deceiving the public in a desperate attempt to justify his sham Commission’s existence and back the President’s false claims – at the expense of our state and faith in our democratic process,” said Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter.  “I ask all public officials in New Hampshire to join me in condemning these dangerous lies, and I call on Secretary of State Gardner to immediately resign his seat on the Commission.”

“From the beginning, President Trump’s voter commission has been nothing more than a partisan sham to justify voter suppression laws,” said Congresswoman Annie Kuster. “This latest absurd attempt to sow uncertainty in New Hampshire’s election results is consistent with Kris Kobach and the commission’s efforts to use deceptive data to question the integrity of our elections. Undermining confidence in our democratic process is irresponsible and dangerous. I urge New Hampshire Secretary of State Gardner to condemn this most recent claim and end his participation in President Trump’s voter commission.”

Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Maggie Hassan issued a joint statement calling for Gardner to resign his position on the commission.

“It has been clear since its inception that President Trump’s voting commission is an attempt to grossly mislead voters and lay the groundwork for broad-scale, politically motivated voter suppression. Now, the head of President Trump’s misguided commission is using deceiving and irrelevant data to rehash the same false claims that have been debunked time and again by independent analysis and members of both parties in New Hampshire. The law clearly states that college students and other New Hampshire residents can vote without a New Hampshire ID, and these false partisan claims are deliberately twisting the facts. Secretary Gardner’s association with this partisan commission risks tarnishing his long legacy of fighting for the New Hampshire Primary and promoting voter participation, and it would be in keeping with his distinguished record to immediately relinquish any role with this commission.”

Gardner told The Associated Press on Friday that he will not step down because, “it’s important to figure out why Americans are losing trust in the election process.”

The answer to that question is simple: Because people keep hearing lies from prominent officials, like our President and our Governor, who say massive voter fraud exists despite any real evidence of fraud.

This is the same tactic the right-wing has been using to deny climate change. They use one report that denies the science and claim that “the results are unclear” or “the facts are in dispute.”

The facts clearly show that voter fraud is not the problem in New Hampshire but yet Trump, Sununu and Kobach continue to make false claims that it does.

If you want to strengthen the “integrity” of our voting system then let’s make some real changes. Make voter registration automatic, so when you move or buy a new home, you will automatically be registered to vote.  Make in-person voting more that a one-day event.  Have early voting locations where people can vote prior to election day open on weekdays and weekends.  Even better, let’s move to a vote by mail system, where your ballot is automatically mailed to you and you can either mail it back, or drop it off at a specified location, prior to election day.

Oregon passed a motor voter law and conducted voting by mail and they had over 70% of the eligible voters return a ballot.  Considering the national average is 55%, it appears they have found a way to increase voter turnout and protect their voting process by expanding voting rights.


The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights will be hosting a rally on Tuesday, Sept 12th, from 8am-10am at St Anslem College, where Trump’s voting commission is scheduled to meet.  More information here

Concord Lawyer And Executive Councilor Says ‘It Is Illegal To Give Voter Information Away’

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky pens letter to Governor Sununu and Secretary of State Gardner citing New Hampshire law that prohibits the State from divulging the personal information requested by the Election Integrity Commission.

Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky

“The stakes are too high for state office holders of good conscience to remain silent in the face of this action,” said Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky. “As you know, claims of rampant voter fraud are baseless and defame the good people of New Hampshire.”

Many states have already rejected the Election Integrity Commission’s request to hand over personal information on every voter in the state, including: party registration, voter history, and the last four digits of the voter’s social security number.

Governor Sununu stated that New Hampshire would “comply” with the request from the commission sparking outrage from Granite Staters who are concerned about how this information is going to be used and the security of the data.

Secretary Gardner issued a statement on Friday that said:  “What is public is what has been public for decades. In this state, every town and city clerk must keep every checklist they use in an election for at least five years so that any citizen can go in and look at the checklists,” said Gardner.

Secretary Gardner is absolutely correct: anyone can go to the state’s archives and view the voter rolls, party affiliation, and voting history, but they cannot leave with it.

Lawyer and Executive Councilor, Andru Volinsky explained how a person can view the information in a letter to Gov. Sununu and Sec. Gardner.

“Pursuant to RSA 654:31, III, may view the statewide centralized voter registration database only during normal business hours at the state archives building, but may not print, duplicate, or transmit the data.”

“…While RSA 654:31-a makes some voter information public, it is subject to significant restrictions as, for example, law enforcement personnel may access information for investigative purposes.”

Volinsky also confirmed the fears of many Granite Staters.

“Once the Commission makes our voter information public, it will be subject to commercial exploitation.  No voter has given you permission to share voting information with commercial concerns.”

The Secretary of State’s office should be closed for the 4th of July holiday but that does not mean you cannot leave them a message.  Call them at 603-271-3242 (3243) and tell them you do not want your personal information shared by the state.

A full copy of Councilor Volinsky’s letter is attached below.

Volinsky Letter

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 Failure to Pass SB 507 and Strengthen Integrity, Innovation for Voting in New Hampshire

Legislation sought to bring New Hampshire voting, democracy into the 21st century

CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Senate voted today against SB 507-FN, authorizing online voter registration, by a vote of 13-11. Statements from voting rights advocates:

“New Hampshire is missing out on an opportunity to bring elections into the 21st century and expand access to voter registration. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have, with bipartisan support, implemented this approach to election modernization, and have seen savings in time, money and other resources,” said Brittnie Baker, Staff Counsel at Fair Elections Legal Network. “We need to continue to fight for common sense elections reforms that would help New Hampshire residents participate in elections.”

“New Hampshire’s voter registration system should be modernized and brought online to give every eligible voter an opportunity to participate in our democracy. Citizens can file taxes, apply for jobs, receive financial aid and register vehicles online,” said Paula Hodges, State Director of America Votes-NH. “Allowing for voter registration online ensures our democracy is keeping up with the technological world we live in.”

“Enabling fellow Granite Staters to securely exercise their right to vote should not be a partisan matter,” stated Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire. “Online voter registration has been adopted in blue and red states throughout the country, precisely because it lessens the burden on local election officials and improves the integrity of the election system as a whole.”

“As the “First in the Nation” Primary state with one of the highest voter participation rates in the country, we believe New Hampshire can become a model for the nation in administering inclusive, transparent, and high integrity elections,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress & Education Fund. “Updating our voting systems to ensure that all voters have equal access, regardless of income, race, gender, disability, or age strengthens our democracy.”

SB 507-FN had previously passed the Senate on a voice vote, but was re-referred to the Finance committee. Voting rights advocates questioned the steep fiscal note that was attached to the bill, which was more than it cost the State of California to overhaul its entire voting system.

“The League of Women Voters NH is very disappointed with the Senate’s decision to kill the opportunity for New Hampshire to move to online voter registration. This was a good piece of legislation that was undermined by a fiscal note that was not credible. It’s not possible for online voter registration in New Hampshire to cost more than it costs for the entire state of California when most states have found the costs to be modest or nonexistent,” said Liz Tentarelli, President of LWVNH. “More than 30 states now have online voter registration, and election officials across the country have praised the benefits of a modernized voting system. Online voter registration increases voter roll accuracy and security, it reduces workload and costs for municipalities, and it encourages citizens to register and vote.”


The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights is a three pronged plan to strengthen integrity and build transparency into the voting process and improve access to the ballot box. The coalition includes America Votes-New Hampshire, Open Democracy, New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, League of Women Voters-New Hampshire, NextGen New Hampshire, New Hampshire Citizens Alliance, People for the American Way, Granite State Progress & Education Fund, and Fair Elections Legal Network.

The Nashua Labor Coalition Endorses Michael O’Brien For Alderman-At-Large In June 23rd Special Election

O’Brien is the voice that working families need in City Hall

(Nashua, NH) The Nashua Labor Coalition, a chapter of the NH AFL-CIO that brings together a variety of labor unions, community organizations, and community activists, endorsed Michael O’Brien for Alderman-at-Large in the upcoming city wide special election on June 23rd.

“As a State Representative for four terms, Michael O’Brien has stood up for working families by opposing harmful legislation like so-called ‘Right To Work’ and has fought to protect our collective bargaining rights,” said Deb Howes, Chair of the Nashua Labor Coalition and member of the Nashua Teachers Union (AFT 1044).  “We know that as an Alderman, Michael will continue to put working families first.”

For over 34 years Michael O’Brien has dedicated his life to protecting the city of Nashua as a member of the Nashua Fire and Rescue.

“We are pleased that Deputy Chief O’Brien has chosen to continue to serve Nashua after his retirement in the coming weeks. When elected, he will be a strong voice for public safety and for growth of the middle class here in Nashua,” said John McAllister, President of the Nashua Firefighters Association IAFF Local #789.

“As an Alderman, I know that Michael will continue to push expanding rail service to Nashua and all of Southern New Hampshire,” said Dawn Roy,  Chair of the United Auto Workers Local 2322.  “The New Hampshire Capitol Corridor Project will bring hundreds of new jobs and would be a boost to our local economy.”

“The Nashua Labor Coalition is proud to endorse Michael O’Brien for Alderman-at- Large, and strongly urge all Nashua residents to vote in the special election for Alderman-at-Large on Tuesday, June 23rd, concluded Howes.

More information on Michael O’Brien can be found at www.obrienfornashua.com

Members of the Nashua Labor Coalition include:

Deb Howes
John McAllister
Dawn Roy
Gary Hoffman
Matt Murray
Jim Scurrah
Sylvia Gale
Dexter Arnold
Ed Barnes

The Nashua Labor Coalition is a chapter of NH AFL-CIO. It includes Nashua Area Affiliated and Non-Affiliated Unions, as well as community organizations.

Granite State Rumblings: The High Cost Of Having Kids, and Why You Need To Vote

This was in my mailbox this morning and I thought I’d share it with you this week.

Parents Projected to Spend $245,340 to Raise a Child Born in 2013, According to USDA Report

Data shows lowest costs are in urban South and rural regions of the U.S., costs highest in urban Northeast

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its annual report, Expenditures on Children and Families, also known as the Cost of Raising a Child. The report shows that a middle-income family with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend about $245,340 ($304,480 adjusted for projected inflation*) for food, housing, childcare and education, and other child-rearing expenses up to age 18. Costs associated with pregnancy or expenses occurred after age 18, such as higher education, are not included.

While this represents an overall 1.8 percent increase from 2012, the percentages spent on each expenditure category remain the same. As in the past, the costs by location are lower in the urban South ($230,610) and rural ($193,590) regions of the country. Families in the urban Northeast incurred the highest costs to raise a child ($282,480).

“In today’s economy, it’s important to be prepared with as much information as possible when planning for the future,” said USDA Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. “In addition to giving families with children an indication of expenses they might want to be prepared for, the report is a critical resource for state governments in determining child support guidelines and foster care payments.”

The report, issued annually, is based on data from the federal government’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, the most comprehensive source of information available on household expenditures. For the year 2013, annual child-rearing expenses per child for a middle-income, two-parent family ranged from $12,800 to $14,970, depending on the age of the child.

The report, developed by the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP), notes that family income affects child-rearing costs. A family earning less than $61,530 per year can expect to spend a total of $176,550 (in 2013 dollars) on a child from birth up to age 18. Middle-income** parents with an income between $61,530 and $106,540 can expect to spend $245,340; and a family earning more than $106,540 can expect to spend $407,820.

“Food is among the top three expenses in raising children,” said CNPP Executive Director Angela Tagtow. “Parents have the challenge of providing food that is not only healthful and delicious, but also affordable. We have great resources such as ChooseMyPlate.gov that features tips to help families serve nutritious and affordable meals. I encourage parents to check out our Healthy Eating On a Budget resources, 10-Tips Nutrition Series, recipes, and MyPlate Kids’ Place, which features digital games for kids to get engaged themselves in healthy eating.”

For middle-income families, housing costs are the single largest expenditure on a child, averaging 30 percent of the total cost. Child care and education was the second largest expense at 18 percent, followed by food, which accounted for 16 percent of the total cost.

“Variations by geographic region are marked when we look at housing, for example,” said study author and CNPP economist Mark Lino, Ph.D. “The average cost of housing for a child up to age 18 is $87,840 for a middle-income family in the urban West, compared to $66,240 in the urban South, and $70,200 in the urban Midwest. It’s interesting to note that other studies are showing that families are increasingly moving to these areas of the country with lower housing cost.”

In 1960, the first year the report was issued, a middle-income family could have expected to spend $25,230 ($198,560 in 2013 dollars) to raise a child until the age of 18. Housing was the largest child-rearing expense both then and now. Health care expenses for a child have doubled as a percentage of total child-rearing costs during that time. In addition, some common current-day costs, such as child care, were negligible in 1960.

Expenses per child decrease as a family has more children. Families with three or more children spend 22 percent less per child than families with two children. As families have more children, the children can share bedrooms, clothing and toys can be handed down to younger children, food can be purchased in larger and more economical quantities, and private schools or child care centers may offer sibling discounts.

The full report, Expenditures on Children by Families, 2013, is available on the web at www.cnpp.usda.gov. In addition, families can enter the number and ages of their children to obtain an estimate of costs with a calculator via the interactive web version of the report.

GROWING UP GRANITE

We have been spending a lot of time at candidate events the past couple of months. From the North Country to the Seacoast the ECM-NH staff has been sitting in American Legion Halls, at country orchards, in function halls, and town halls across the State. It has truly been a learning experience. One that I hope you are also taking advantage of as well. You never know from one event to the next what a candidate will say about an issue and how his or her answer and position may change. In case you can’t get to a candidate event, we are tweeting what we have been seeing and hearing. Are you following us? Our Twitter handle is @ECMNH.

All of this has been in preparation for the NH Primary on September 9th.

Are you aware that this great opportunity is coming to the city or town where you live?

Did you know that it is a FREE event?

Guess what? You don’t even need to do anything before that date to participate. You just need to be at least 18 years of age, a United States citizen, and live in the community where you intend to vote. Just show up at your polling place with proper identification and you can VOTE!

There’s even a webpage that can answer any questions you may have about how to participate!!

You already may have decided you’ve got other pressing plans for September 9th— plans that will keep you busy from dawn to dusk, or you are going to be out of state. Well there is still a way for you to participate. It is called an absentee ballot.

But in case you have a wee bit of time open that day, here’s a bit of history  from the Women’s Suffrage Publishing Company, dated 1916, as to why women especially, should make it a point to vote.

It wasn’t too long ago that we were not afforded that opportunity.

Twelve Reasons Why Women Should Vote

  • BECAUSE those who obey the laws should help to choose those who make the laws.
  • Because laws affect women as much as me.
  • Because laws which affect WOMEN are now passed without consulting them.
  • Because laws affecting CHILDREN should include the woman’s point of view as well as the man’s.
  • Because laws affecting the HOME are voted on in every session of the Legislature.
  • Because women have experience which would be helpful to legislation,
  • Because to deprive women of the vote is to lower their position in common estimation.
  • Because having the vote would increase the sense of responsibility among women toward questions of public importance.
  • Because public spirited mothers make public spirited sons.
  • Because about 8,000,000 women in the United States are wage workers, and the conditions under which they work are controlled by law.
  • Because the objections against their having the vote are based on prejudice, not reason.
  • Because to sum up all the reasons in one – IT IS FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF ALL.

VOTES FOR WOMEN
NATIONAL WOMAN SUFFRAGE. PUBLISHING CO, INC.
171 Madison Avenue, New York City

Mark your calendar today, so you won’t forget! Your Vote is your Voice!

Voter ID Impact on NH Taxpayers

When New Hampshire voters went to the polls this year they were asked to show an ID due to the new Voter photo ID bill. On September 1, 2013, that law changes and becomes more restrictive by limiting the list of ID’s that will be accepted in order to cast your vote. The law removes the ability to use most forms of photo ID including those issued by a state, county or municipal government, a valid student ID, an ID determined to be legitimate by local election officials, and simple identity verification by local town officials. Voters without acceptable ID’s will not only have to sign an affidavit but will be required to have a poll worker take their photo before being allowed to vote. The poll workers will then have to print a color copy of the photo in real time and affix it to the voter’s signed affidavit. Not only will the number of individuals who get caught up in the process increase but so will state expenditures to implement the changes.  How much more will this cost the state? Roughly a quarter million dollars was requested by the Secretary of State’s office for FY14 & FY15.

America was founded on the principle that we’re all created equal.  Inside the voting booth, all Americans have an equal and unencumbered voice in our democracy. But instead, some want you to believe it’s a privilege to vote and not a right and those people are willing to make it harder for some to cast their ballot. That’s the real reason why they want to limit the number of ID’s that are acceptable. They will try to convince you that voter impersonation is rampant in New Hampshire, but we know from thorough investigations that this just is not the case. There have only been three cases of voter fraud according to fraud reports issued by the SOS and AG’s office since 2006. The most recent case at the polls in NH was that of James O’Keefe, the conservative activist who was attempting to make a point that voter impersonation is possible, but fell short of proving anything about actual voter impersonation; instead all he proved was his unfamiliarity with New Hampshire voting law, landing himself in hot water. We all agree that protecting the integrity of our elections is vitally important—that’s why we already have strict laws and protections in place.

Proponents of Voter photo ID will also try to convince you that Voter ID laws are no big deal – that you need an ID to get on an airplane or buy a beer. The problem is that neither of those actions is enshrined in our Constitution – voting is. And contrary to their belief, not everyone does have an ID. Just this past election 5,424 people in New Hampshire didn’t have an ID to vote. That’s 5,424 people who might not  cast a vote next election year because they lack ID – no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like and who they vote for, that’s 5,424 too many.

If those reasons alone don’t give you pause to think twice about the real implications of voter photo ID, then I hope the financial implications will. It is just too expensive to implement when there have only been three cases of voter fraud as reported by the Secretary of State’s office and the Attorney General in the last 8 years. More people get struck by lightning than impersonate another voter at the polls. Is a quarter of a million worth those odds? I think not.

Jess Clark
Political and Field Director
America Votes

If you are on the Daily Kos, click here to Comment and Rec.

Protect Your Right to Vote!

New Website
www.NHVoterProtection.org

Educates Granite Staters of Voting Rights, Responsibilities
Website Launched to Protect NH Voters After Slew of Anti-Voter Legislation

Last session the New Hampshire Legislature passed laws that added new steps and confusion to the voting process in the Granite State.

To help counteract the negative effects of these changes, Granite State Progress Education Fund and New Hampshire Citizens Alliance have created a website dedicated to educating voters about the changes and ensuring Granite Staters exercise their right to vote.

The website, www.NHVoterProtection.org, contains a breakdown of the new laws that affect voting, and what to do if you are unfairly challenged at the polls.

 

 

NH State Rep Urges You To Vote No On Ballot Question 1 & 2

NHLN Note: Below is an editorial submitted to NHLN from Chris Serlin State Rep from Portsmouth. He also published this article on the Portsmouth Patch

New Hampshire Voters Should Reject Amendment Questions 1 and 2 this November

By Chris Serlin
State Rep 

This November election day, in New Hampshire, we will not only be voting to elect a President, 2 US Representatives, a new Governor and on down through the ballot – but we will all have a chance to voice our opinions on 3 questions that involve our State Constitution. They are referred to, simply, as “Question 1”, etc., and they will be at the bottom / reverse side of your ballots.

It is VERY important that voters make their thinking known on these questions.

Two of those questions, 1 and 2, are of great potential consequence to New Hampshire for decades to come, and I urge everyone to reject them – soundly. What follows are my thoughts on why we all should do so for Question 1. I’ll address Question 2 in a separate post – but I’ll give you a hint about why you should reject it: “Separation of Powers”. It’s what makes our system work, let’s not change it.

On to the question at hand.

Question 1 seeks to amend our constitution to forever prohibit an Income Tax. It’s “The Pledge” on super-duper steroids. The darling of today’s Republicans in New Hampshire; something they have dreamt about for so long, they used their super-majorities this past session to put this question to the people this November.

I believe this initiative is, at least in part, a typical GOTV effort. After all, in New Hampshire, how do you get your right-wing base to the polls? Talk about same-sex marriage? No, not really – not here. An Income Tax question? You betcha!

But taken as is, the question is, IMO, a cynical effort to play on the emotions of voters instead of a logical argument that might garner rational support. When people hear “income tax”, they say “where!? Yikes!” – and that’s what the New Hampshire GOP wants you to do. Don’t fall for it.

A bit of history: New Hampshire has no income tax. We never have, at least, in a manner that fits a modern definition of one (calculated upon a stated amount of actual revenue). In colonial times, pre and post Revolution, in reality we did have an income tax because then “Property” taxes were established based on a presumption of one’s ability to generate revenue based on the amount of property held and its use (timber, apples, grains, etc.). But that’s another conversation for another day – one which I hope we do have.

So, with no income tax, never having had one, and with current majorities and candidates opposed to one (for the most part), what’s the risk? Why must we enshrine a prohibition against a very specific revenue policy choice in the instrument that documents the core morals and beliefs we all agree to live by, and which establishes our system of government and defines its powers?

Well, I do not believe there is good reason to do so. Quite obviously our system works. We don’t have one and we’re not getting one anytime soon. Even if we did, magically, have an income tax passed through some (currently unimaginable) confluence of events – we have a unique political system in New Hampshire that allows “we the people” to completely change government every 2 years, from the Governor on down all the way into County offices. A repeal, under that bizarre circumstance, is all that would be needed to eliminate the tax if that was what the people wanted.

“Well”, proponents are arguing, “isn’t it better just to change the Constitution to eliminate even that chance?”

No. It is not.

Our constitution is not a sandbox to play with and see what ideas stick. As proponents most certainly know, (in fact they’re counting on this), once done it is *very* difficult to undo a change to our constitution. That’s the mechanism we have for such changes and it is a good one – assuming our constitution is changed with good reason, and careful consideration. But our system is setup so that only 34% of people voting on a given constitutional question (not 34% of the electorate and not 34% of those casting ballots on any given election day – 34% of voters who vote on the question(s) specifically) can hold the remaining 66% “hostage”. It’s a firewall against radical changes, in perhaps radical times. But as it applies to what revenue policy choices future generations, and their elected representatives *may* make, we will not be well served if such a minority can thwart the will of so many in some later time even during a period of crisis or national emergency. Revenue policy is best left to the fluid nature of our Legislative process – not set in concrete. None of us should feel safe giving such power to such a small group of the voting public.

But if a constitutional argument isn’t quite your cup of tea, I’ll offer another – the “law of unintended consequences”.

Question 1 specifically allows any tax already in place to stay in place, and provides that they will not be impacted by this amendment language. Also, though not currently in place, this amendment would *not* prohibit a sales tax in New Hampshire.

Spending and revenue to match will always be a controversial subjects. As well they ought to be in a republic like ours. But let’s agree that at times in the future the legislature will need to increase revenues to suit the needs of the day. To what sources might they turn, if an Income Tax is 100% off the table?

Property taxes. Hate seeing your property taxes always go up – wish there were a more equitable way to spread the cost of government, education, services? Don’t vote for Question 1.

Are you a business owner? If you vote for Question 1, BET and BPT are on the table for hikes in some future scenario even if most people would prefer to spread any necessary increases to the wealthiest among us . Own a business bordering VT, ME or MA? A sales tax is on the table. Will that make you more or less competitive? Are you retired, know someone who is – or otherwise derive any income from investments? Dividend and Interest tax is on the table. Restaurant or hotel in the family? Meals and rooms tax ripe for a bump.

Hunt? Renewing your car registration? Selling real estate? Enjoy our park system? The list goes on. All of those taxes and fees would be fair game in any effort to raise revenue if an Income Tax is off the table until such amendment could be repealed; itself an arduous process matching passage. Regardless of how severe the need, the process of repeal could take years – even generations. It’s very difficult to get 67% of voters to agree on something.

“Well [Chris] we’ll keep spending super low, and none of those scenarios you just discussed will occur – we won’t need more revenue.”

Come again?

It’s fantasy to believe that we can keep cutting gov’t spending and not *ever* have to raise new revenue dollars or hike existing streams. That’s not because government is wasteful, it’s math and common sense.

Anyone try running a business w 2012-rate expenses but 1980s revenue streams? How well does anyone think that would really work? In many cases here in NH, that’s what we do. Our deficit is structural. And you can only cut so much. Sooner or later the Legislature will be forced to consider other revenue sources. And not necessarily to add to what we pay now. I personally favor an income tax to replace some or all of our property taxes. It is, IMO, a far more equitable way in which to generate revenue. But even replacing existing taxes w an income tax is off the table if Question 1 passes.

Some proponents of the question have said that the greatest legacy of this Legislature will be that we made it possible for the people to forever prohibit an income tax in New Hampshire.

As a legislator, citizen and father I believe the greatest legacy we can leave our children (and theirs, and theirs, etc.) is the freedom to make their own choices in their own time, just as we have been able to do. About all things. Revenue and spending most of all. That’s not risky – that’s liberty.

It most certainly will not be to bequeath to them a New Hampshire where in a single area of tax policy, we have forever tied their hands.

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