Why Secretary of State Gardner should resign

It’s clear that the Voter Integrity Commission is pursuing an undisclosed and dangerous agenda

On Aug. 30, The Washington Post published an article outlining the failure of President Trump’s Voter Integrity Commission to honestly and completely acknowledge what documents were to be considered at the first meeting in July.

According to the Post, the commission staff did not disclose that members were given a 381-page “database” prepared by the right-wing Heritage Foundation that listed 1,100 cases of so-called but unproven “voter fraud.” The judge who issued orders following the nondisclosure said it was “incredible” that the failure occurred.

This commission has been an unbridled mess from the very start. Here in New Hampshire, our Secretary of State, William Gardner, naively accepted membership on the commission despite the objections of citizens who viewed the panel as a fraud in itself, a device designed to gin up support
for Republican voter suppression efforts.

Because his membership was directly connected to his status of secretary, Mr. Gardner should have sought public input before accepting membership — he did not.

Once having joined the commission, Mr. Gardner capitulated to Governor Sununu’s demands that New Hampshire abide by the co-chair of the commission’s unjustifiable request to hand over its entire voter files.

A firestorm of opposition blew up, in large part because of our long-standing policy of protecting the privacy of our citizens. A little more than a month ago, Gardner found himself the defendant in a lawsuit seeking to block the release of the database to the commission (that has now been settled). Further problems arose when people noticed that state laws relative to the protection of domestic violence victims were being trampled on by the release of voter information.

It now becomes clear, thanks to the reporting of The Washington Post, that all of this has been happening while the Trump administration has pursued an undisclosed and dangerous agenda, which has worried many from the get-go.

That agenda, seen most clearly, involves the fabrication of “individual voter fraud” in elections nationwide. It proceeds to bedeck those lies with totally false “evidence” mined from the pages of “reports” submitted from right-wing organizations. It concludes with the issuance of hogwash findings from the commission that Republicans will use to justify wholesale voter suppression.

Given this, there is only one question for New Hampshire citizens to ponder: Why would we want our Secretary of State to have anything to do with this? Is it not Bill Gardner’s duty to make voting easy, lawful and accurate for all of us here in New Hampshire?

Given what is going on, Gardner should resign.

Peter Burling, who has served as both a state senator and in the NH House, recently stepped down as New Hampshire’s Democratic National Committeeman.

Categories: Opinion