Voter fraud controversy continues as bill, commission come under fire at NH Statehouse
CONCORD — Voting issues took center stage at the New Hampshire Statehouse on Thursday.
New Hampshire residents and voters opposing SB3 gathered outside of the Statehouse to voice concerns and deliver a signed petition to Gov. Chris Sununu's office.
SB3 deals with what New Hampshire considers a domicile for the purpose of allowing, or disallowing, people to vote.
Currently, the state defines a domicile as "that one place where a person, more than any other place, has established a physical presence and manifests an intent to maintain a single continuous presence for domestic, social, and civil purposes."
SB3 would change the legal definition of a domicile to be "the principal or primary home or place of abode of a person" with the stipulation that the primary home as been as such for a minimal of 30 days, or can be otherwise proven through documentation that it will be the primary residence for more than 30 days.
The bill also would create a number of additional requirements alongside residency that would need to be met to be eligible to vote.
When determining a potential new voter's residence the following factors or evidence would be taken into account: civic and community participation, the place where a person spends most nights of the year, the location from which a person would apply for a passport or other federal identification, residence for income or other tax purposes, eligibility for a resident hunting and fishing license, and a New Hampshire driver’s license.
On Wednesday morning a little more than 50 people gathered in front of the Commodore Perkins Monument at the New Hampshire Statehouse to listen to a few speakers and deliver the over 2,000 signatures urging Sununu to veto SB3.
Sununu previously has expressed support for the bill.
"This legislation helps protect the integrity of New Hampshire's electoral process," he said in a statement back in June. "As host of the First in the Nation primary, New Hampshire has the obligation to ensure our system is beyond reproach. This bill does exactly that and as such, I support SB 3."
The petitioners believe that the changes to requirements for voter registration will suppress people's right to vote. A total of 2,287 people signed the petition.
Durham Town Clerk Lorri Pitts voiced her concerns and the concerns of other officials in Durham saying that the new requirements will make it difficult for the town to register large numbers of voters close to elections.
Jason Kander, the President of Let America Vote and former Secretary of State for Missouri, told petitioners that voting law changes like SB3 are a part of a national Republican political strategy, not policy, to retain their power.
"Some folks mentioned voter registration. That's what we ought to be doing. We ought to be making it easier for eligible voters to vote," Kander said.
Allegations of voter fraud by President Donald Trump is a factor in the Republican-led bill SB3 that states if domicile requirements are found to not have been met by newly registered voters an investigation into voter fraud would commence.
Trump also has requested that states share voter information with an election commission investigating the claims of fraud.
On Tuesday, two lawmakers along with the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire asked a judge to keep Secretary of State Bill Gardner from complying with the commission's request.
Gardner, a member of the commission, plans to submit data that is public under state law: names, addresses, party affiliation and voting history.
Democratic state Sen. Bette Lasky, of Nashua, and Republican Rep. Neal Kurk, of Weare, argue that doing so doesn't fit any of the scenarios in which statewide data can be shared.
Lasky said she took action because she's a strong protector of voter rights and was distressed by Gardner's decision.
A number of New Hampshire Democrats who oppose sending voter information are asking for a special legislative session to clarify state law.
For there to be a special legislative session, 50 members of the house and eight members of the Senate will need to sign the petition for the session. Then all lawmakers will be asked if they want the special session.
If a majority is reached between both the house and senate the special legislative session will be held.
The NH GOP on Thursday called the opposition hypocritical.
"In 2007, New Hampshire Democrats fought specifically for the right to sell voter data they had bought from the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office and expanded with more specific information regarding each voter," NH GOP Chair Jeanie Forrester said in a statement. "Every major Democratic Presidential campaign in 2007, including the campaigns of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, purchased this data from the New Hampshire Democratic Party for $65,000.
"The commission needs the voter data in order to ensure integrity in our elections. If there truly is no fraud, what are the New Hampshire Democrats so worried about?"
Material from the Associated Press contributed to this story.