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Mar 9, 2017 6:15 PM

NH1 Newsmakers: Bradley predicts police provision in bill to tighten voting rights will be dropped


CONCORD – State Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley praised a new bill to tighten New Hampshire’s election laws. And he pushed back against critics of the measure, saying “nobody’s going to be denied the right to vote. But if they claim domicile here, you gotta come back and show people you are actually domiciled here.”

But state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn disagreed, saying the bill “is aimed to discourage and depress voters. And it’s a national strategy.”

The two top lawmakers in the chamber made their comments on Thursday, as they sat down for the latest edition of NH1 Newsmakers.

The measure, authored by GOP state Sen. Regina Birdsell, would require that anyone who registers to vote either prior to or within 30 days of an election, or on Election Day itself thanks to the state's same-day registration law, present definitive proof that they reside in the Granite State.

People who fail to provide such identification could still vote, but would be required to provide proof of residency to city and town clerks within 10 days of voting, or 30 days for towns where offices are only open once a week.

That’s a quicker time period requirement than current election law dictates. Provisions in her bill allow town clerks, the Secretary of State’s office, and even police on a routine patrol to pay a home visit to obtain a voter’s proof of residency.

Thanks to a very large crowd that showed up for Tuesday’s public airing of the bill, the hearing was moved to Representatives Hall.

Bradley said “my best guess is when the bill finally comes to the floor the provision about the police will be stricken from the bill.”

“It’s really not necessary for the bill to function to have that provision,” he added.

And the Republican lawmaker from Wolfeboro pushed back against conservative critics of the measure, saying “to my good friends who are conservatives who want to go further, this is the classic example of not letting the perfect be the enemy of the good.”

Woodburn disagreed. He said the bill “had a very cool reception because this idea of sending police officers to confirm whether people live where they say they live. It’s not the way we do business in New Hampshire.”

And the Democratic lawmaker from Dalton added that “we are a state that’s a beacon for democracy and this is something I think will harm our democracy, make them ridicule our first in the nation primary by encouraging these crazy notions that there’s corruption here in the state of New Hampshire.”

The two state Senate party leaders also faced off on NH1 Newsmakers over decriminalizing marijuana, transgender protections, New Hampshire’s loss of a major NASCAR race, and the U.S. House Republican leadership’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

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