Birdsell bills mean voter suppression



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To the editor:

In New Hampshire, as many as 40 bills addressing state election laws were filed at the State House making this a prominent issue even before President Trump put New Hampshire in the national spotlight by making an unsubstantiated claim that that thousands of people were bused into the state from Massachusetts and voted illegally.

NH Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, seems to believe Trump’s uncorroborated claims and, rather than show the necessary leadership to refute them, she is working on ways to limit voter participation. Several key House bills have been recently put on hold while Senate Republicans, led by Birdsell, work on what has been described as an all-encompassing, “kitchen-sink” plan designed to suppress voter participation.

Senate Bill 3 requires a shorter turnaround requirement than under current law to present definitive proof of residency in the state for those who register to vote within 30 days of an election, or on Election Day. A follow-up provision in the bill would allow police on routine patrol to visit a home to seek proof of residency from the voter. These restrictions and distractions are unwarranted and many are unconstitutional. 

Birdsell and others seem to be trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Zuckerman said his office received no complaints of voter fraud in the most recent election. Zuckerman has served as the district elections officer in New Hampshire for the last 10 years.

Tom Rath, a prominent New Hampshire Republican who worked on the presidential campaigns of former President George W. Bush and 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney, tweeted, “Let me as be unequivocal as possible – allegations of voter fraud in NH are baseless, without any merit – it’s shameful to spread these fantasies,”

The expansion of voting rights is associated with some of the proudest moments in American history. The Suffragette and Civil Rights movements resulted in the participation of disenfranchised community members nationwide. As a result, we all benefited from a greater exchange of ideas. Any student of recent history will recognize Birdsell’s efforts to be consistent with a partisan effort to limit that exchange. 

John Friede

Peterborough

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