New Hampshire moderators take an oath to protect the integrity of an election, to assure the public their votes were counted and recorded accurately. Derry Moderator Mary Till stood by that oath in the September state primary.
Exercising substantial authority given New Hampshire moderators under RSA 659:60, Till, adhering to all election rules, chose to conduct a random hand-count audit, on election night, to check the accuracy of the primary’s computer results.
About 750 ballots were counted. The audit took approximately one hour. Till said she had five teams, plus two sorters. The cost to Derry residents: virtually nothing. All volunteered their time, since the town clerk had no budget to pay them.
In a 2010 memo to the town of Swanzey, Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan wrote: “the moderator at his or her discretion may count any race on the ballot by hand if, for a specific reason, they feel a need to verify the result of the electronic ballot counting device.”
Yet, the state of New Hampshire continues to discourage moderators from doing such commonsense checks, on election night, when errors can be found and most often corrected.
Counting votes in public assures the transparency essential for election integrity. Lack of transparency allows those whose design is tampering with the votes an opportunity to do so without detection. Till said she felt it her responsibility to “check to make sure Derry machines were working properly.”
Without an observable vote count, and no means of verification, voters must trust the computer results. By conducting an audit, Till exercised her right and duty to prove to voters that the computer tally was, in fact, accurate. Although a random sampling, thanks to her, it helped assure Derry voters that the precinct machine audited was working properly.
New Hampshire moderators in computer-count communities need to follow her lead. The public needs to understand the vulnerabilities of a concealed computer vote-counting process and encourage and support its moderators’ efforts to provide actual evidence of an honest election.
The NH Sierra Club hosted a public forum with leaders of the Pessamit Innu community and Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador where they made an appeal to the people of New Hampshire to stop Northern Pass. The forum was held at Plymouth State University and the audience learned about the devastating impacts that large scale hydro power can have on the environment and the people who depend on it. Watch the presentation here.
Sustainable energy development can be achieved only when the people affected by energy governing decisions are the ones who make them.
Systemic errors in our current state and national governments result in violations of the right of local community self-government. It is beyond argument that these violations are real, constant, and have gone without remedy by elected representatives and the court system of the state. It has been left to the people to take corrective action, by demanding constitutional change that will guarantee in specific, unassailable terms that it is the people who govern, that they have the authority, power and right to enact and enforce laws in their own communities that prevent the state from empowering corporations to violate community rights under color of state law.
New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NCHRN) is hosting, in partnership with Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort (CARE Group), Rights & Democracy and Open Democracy NH, a sneak preview of We the People 2.0 – The Second American Revolution at Pease Public Library in Plymouth at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18.
Should the Selectboard of Plymouth act in any way contrary to the instruction or expressed will of the people of Plymouth, you are not only violating the oath you took to uphold the state Constitution, but you are violating the rights of the people from which your power is derived. You would be acting in concert with Eversource to violate the expressed will and instruction of the Right to a Sustainable Energy Future and Community Self-Government Ordinance adopted by the people of Plymouth in 2012. NHCRN encourages you to fulfill your moral, ethical, and constitutional duty to represent the will of the people of Plymouth.
Until we assert our right of local community self-government, and protect our communities from corporate harms by exercising that right, the best we will get are respites between assaults. Let’s keep our sleeves rolled up. Let’s move forward in solidarity to fight for our community rights: our right to collectively decide what happens where we live.
On March 8, the residents of Barrington voted to enact a Community Bill of Rights Ordinance (CBR). The CBR protects the waterways of the Town, including rivers, streams, ponds, wetlands, watersheds and aquifers. The local law recognizes the right of local self-governance in Barrington and gives rights to ecosystems, but denies the rights of personhood to corporations.
By Rep. Susan Emerson
Thursday, February 25, 2016
(Published in print: Tuesday, March 1, 2016)
As the primary sponsor of CACR 14, providing that the people of New Hampshire have the right of local community self-government, a proposed amendment to our State Constitution, I want to speak with you about the need for this improvement to our organic law.I want to address the obstacles municipalities face when, in good conscience and with a sense of deep responsibility to their communities, to future generations, and to the natural environment on which their health and safety depends, they are blocked from living up to those responsibilities by habits of law and jurisprudence that seem to them unresponsive and, frankly, unjust.
When we in the Legislature and the good people in our judiciary treat community governments as simple subdivisions of the state by preempting and overturning local laws that the people or their local representatives deem necessary for their safety and well-being, we sometimes inadvertently trespass upon sacred rights retained by the people.
The citizens never delegated to us the authority to deprive them of the power and authority to legislate locally for the protection of unalienable rights and the health, safety and welfare of the human and natural communities that dwell within the jurisdiction of our state’s municipalities.
Let me be clear that this proposed constitutional amendment will not strip from the state the power to override local laws that interfere with mere matters of legitimate statewide concern. It is not written to eliminate state preemption of local laws, but to temper that exercise of state power by making immune from preemption those local laws that specifically protect unalienable, basic rights.
It seems beyond imagination that any member of this distinguished body would support habits of governance that would be destructive to the unalienable rights of the people or deny their authority to engage democratically for the protection of those rights. And yet, in the eyes of many constituents, whom we serve and do not have authority to command, the power of preemption over local laws too frequently creates this very outcome.
Corporate industries, be they big wind, extension cords, pipelines, electronic voting software, smart meters, big box stores, water bottling, etc., use the same playbook. The playbook they use involves clever “truths,” financial payoffs, dividing and conquering the communities of New Hampshire by picking winners and losers, and using whatever means possible to bully communities into hosts for their profit-making projects. They will continue this approach until the People say, “No more!”
Town meeting 2016
Some New Hampshire communities have done just that by enacting a rights-based ordinance that declares their inherent and unalienable right of self-governance to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents and natural ecosystems by prohibiting corporate activities that would threaten their right to protect their communities from becoming unwilling resource colonies. Sugar Hill, Easton, Plymouth, Barnstead, Nottingham, Atkinson, Grafton, Danbury, Alexandria, and Hebron currently have RBOs in place, with Barrington and Mason looking to enact RBOs during their 2016 town meetings. These communities and others, have become increasingly aware of the structure of the system used by corporations to bully communities into compliance using state and federal laws lobbied by industry lawyers to override their right to protect their health, safety and welfare.
This is why I have sponsored the proposed Amendment CACR 14 to the New Hampshire Constitution that would add Article 40 Right of Local Community Self-Government to the Bill of Rights part of our constitution. This amendment simply recognizes an inherent and unalienable right we were all born with: the right to self-govern.
The purpose of CACR 14 is to provide new guards against the oppression of the people, wittingly or unwittingly, by a central government, and to secure their right to chart their own course, where their fundamental rights are at issue, for the future security of their communities, their homes, their families and future generations.
This amendment has received bipartisan support from cosponsors and constituents from communities all across the state. As an elected official, I am representing my constituents because I see the value of presenting to the people the choice to have their right of local community self-government recognized and respected within our state constitution.
I have witnessed how the interests of big corporations are considered and the rights of my constituents are ignored, and how often wealthy corporations threaten to bankrupt towns that stand up to them in an attempt to protect themselves.
The people are the experts regarding what is best for the water they drink, the air they breathe, the soil that grows the food they eat, how they vote, their energy resources, and what is best for their local economy. Sustainable environmental and economic development can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make such decisions. Local lawmaking does not mean the mere local administration of state-made regulations. Such ministerial governance, where the local officers act as the administrative arm of the central government, was justifiably rejected by our patriot forebears, including Sam Adams and Thomas Paine.
Local administration of laws not made by the people they govern was then, and remains now, a mockery on the unalienable right of self-governance by the people.
To my colleagues who might be concerned that such language challenges federal court supremacy, let me be clear: It is the securing of the inalienable rights of the people that justifies the existence of government, including the courts. These rights are the highest law, and no court can legitimately rule against or create new legal constructs that violate those rights.
To reiterate Article 3 of the New Hampshire Bill of Rights, “When men enter into a state of society, they surrender up some of their natural rights to that society, in order to ensure the protection of others; and, without such an equivalent, the surrender is void.” What is done by the courts or any branch of government to endanger the natural rights retained by the people is void.
What cannot be voided, by the people or their governments, are the unalienable rights that belong to them and to future generations. Not by us through preemptive laws, not by the courts through creative interpretations of written law, nor through procedural denials of those rights, as with Dillon’s Rule which purports to strip local governments of the authority to represent the self-governing rights of the people in protection of their health and safety.
The people of New Hampshire rely on the General Court as their representatives to place before the people needed reforms. Article 32 of our state Bill of Rights tells us that, “The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble and consult upon the common good, give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by way of petition or remonstrance, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.”
We have been asked by the people of New Hampshire communities to place this amendment before them for a vote. Article 8 of our state Bill of Rights says plainly that, “All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them.” Because we take these responsibilities to be our sacred duty, we the sponsors of this proposed amendment, bring it to the attention of the General Court.
We hereby call on every New Hampshire lawmaker to support referring CACR 14 to the people for their consideration and public vote.
Rep. Susan Emerson (R-Rindge) represents Cheshire County District 11.
Rep. Emerson “gets it.” She also understands her role of representing her constituents. She says, the corporate playbook “involves clever ‘truths’, financial payoffs, dividing and conquering the communities of New Hampshire … and using whatever means possible to bully communities into hosts for their profit-making projects. They will continue this approach until the People say, “No More!”
Did you know? Corporations enjoy more power to decide what happens in your community than the people who live in your community — even your local governments.
State and federal government agencies issue permits to corporations that legalize harmful business activities that would otherwise be illegal. Corporations routinely use state preemption and claimed “rights” to prevent communities from local lawmaking decisions that are in the best interest of the community.
New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) is pleased that Rep. Susan Emerson (R-Cheshire District 11) has introduced the NH Community Rights Amendment. If approved and passed, it would guarantee the people in towns throughout New Hampshire the authority to enact local laws to protect their natural environment, as well as community and individual rights, free from state preemption and corporate interference.
Alexandria, NH: Support for a Constitutional Amendment to Allow Community Rights to Local Self-Government
Sept. 19, 2015 – NH Community Rights Amendment – Michelle Sanborn, Alexandria, NH, NHCRN Coordinator
The people of New Hampshire realize that even with traditional New England Town Meeting governing style, and the largest representative body of any other state, that communities are being denied the right to decide what happens where they live.
Hydro-Quebec’s Northern Pass project, if permitted, would produce 190-miles of HVDV transmission lines and towers from Canada to southern New Hampshire. A scar through some of New Hampshire’s most pristine and un-fragmented wild places, to carry electricity to feed the demands of southern New England states. Almost every community along the Northern Pass route objects to the project as proposed. Who decides the fate of communities targeted by HQ NP – a presidential permit and the state agency known as the Site Evaluation Committee (SEC).
Along the central-western ridgelines of New Hampshire, industrial wind developers have been bullying communities with a number of projects over the past four years. Global developers, like Energias de Portugal (EDP), are eager to profit from one of the region’s most sought after resources – unspoiled ridgelines. Even communities not targeted to host industrial wind projects are in opposition to the destruction of New Hampshire’s pristine ridgelines for the sake of “not clean, not green, not cheap” energy. Who decides the fate of communities targeted by industrial wind developers – the SEC.
The Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project has awakened the more populated southern part of New Hampshire to the reality of the systemic stripping away of any authority communities have over the decision making process. Originally, southern New Hampshire was considered the alternate route for piping fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale to the East Coast for export. Communities across New Hampshire are beginning to understand what NIMBY truly stands for – Next It Might Be You! Who decides the fate of communities targeted by the KM NED pipeline – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Corporate water withdrawal and gravel mining corporations have targeted a number of Granite State communities as resource colonies. These resources are vital to the local survival and sustainability of surrounding ecosystems and those that depend on them. New Hampshire has a history of independence and time has not diluted that spirit. Communities are not giving up the resources they depend upon for survival without a challenge. Who decides the fate of communities targeted for corporate water withdrawal – the State of NH through the Department of Environmental Services.
From all across New Hampshire, communities have come together to form the New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN). Participants of the NHCRN realize the common denominator shared by those targeted as “resource colonies for profit” – that sustainable environmental and economic development can be achieved only when the people affected by governing decisions are the ones who make such decisions. An awakening is stirring in the hearts and minds of Granite Staters. In order to protect the resources they hold dear, and protect their very own survival, they must frontally challenge the current structure of law that legalize these harms.
The NHCRN is prepared to challenge our elected representatives to see the current structure of law for what it truly is – a “free pass” that allows for-profit corporations to rape and plunder the natural resources that Granite Staters depend upon for environmental and economic survival; a denial of freedom for the people of New Hampshire to protect their health, safety and welfare; and a blatant contradiction to the New Hampshire Constitution.
The New Hampshire Constitution, Part First, Bill of Rights provides that (Article 2.) all men have certain natural, essential and inherent rights; (Article 1.) all government of right originates from the people and is founded in consent; (Article 8.) all power resides originally in, and is derived from the people and all magistrates and officers of government are accountable at all times to them; (Article 10.) and government being instituted for the common benefit, and not for private interest, whenever the ends of government are perverted, the people may, and of right, ought to reform the old or establish a new government.
The NHCRN is not only challenging our elected representatives to see the current structure of law for what it truly is, but we call on the Legislature of the State of New Hampshire to place a constitutional amendment before the people that acknowledges the rights of communities, and of their governments, to enact local laws to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people, their community and natural environment. An amendment to our NH State Constitution that would allow communities to decide what happens where they live. In order to protect the health, safety and welfare of natural people and their environments, communities must have the authority to prohibit activities that would violate their rights.
The NHCRN is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has partnered with Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) to draft the NH Community Rights Amendment we are proposing for the 2016 Legislative Session. Residents from Colorado and Oregon are also proposing state constitutional amendments to recognize their inherent and unalienable Right of Local Community Self-Government. Participants of this grassroots people’s movement understand that bargaining with for-profit corporations, state environmental agencies, and our elected representatives will NOT change the system. Just as with prior movements to free slaves, give women the right to own property and vote, and the movement for civil rights – we must stop accepting the legalization of our communities as resource colonies. We must assert our Right of Local Community Self-Government to enact local laws that protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of New Hampshire and the ecosystems we depend upon for survival. Visit NHCRN at www.nhcommnityrights.org or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about the NH Community Rights Amendment.
West from Richmond
Neither the wind joined by a sliver of smoke
along a miracle of broken rocks and forests
nor the promiscuous waters spent into two rivers
running through ancient Warwick Fault
where water like great ears listening
can hear new threats to their lands.
Voices voices voices from ledges and hills
stunned into silent unbelieving
understand the water’s knowing
as slowly the land shares the water’s knowing
& humans too begin to understand
their lives now are altered forever.
Jean Tandy of Richmond, NH
Conway Sun: NH State Representative Eric Estevez on the Kinder Morgan pipeline proposed for Southern NH
Your rights and how you can exercise them in our faux-democratic society (our Fauxmockracy):
Perhaps it’s time for the people of Denton to begin that journey as well — rejecting the state’s authority to override them, and re-passing the same local law banning fracking, but this time as a “Community Bill of Rights,” which openly challenges the authority of the state itself.
And when the corporations say “you can’t do that,” the people of Denton should reply “we can, we will and we must.”
I am one of a group of people fighting electrical transmission lines and wind turbines in New Hampshire for four and a half years. We have succeeded only by delaying projects, a goal in itself, but we have not been able to make any changes in the government process to protect us, the people and state of New Hampshire from energy companies. Why? Energy corporations use their vast amounts of money to influence every aspect of the process for siting projects in New Hampshire. Money does make a difference. Dorothy McPhaul is a resident of Sugar Hill, McPhaul was a write-in candidate for the District I State Senate seat.
To the editor: Residents all over New Hampshire are finding their communities being endangered by corporations that believe their profits should take precedence over the health, welfare and safety of the people and environment. Whether it’s a private water bottling company, high voltage power lines, industrial wind turbines, gravel pits, gas pipelines, or any of a number of other corporate proposals, residents are finding that their regulatory ordinances, zoning laws and master plans get ignored or trampled when it comes to fighting back.
Dear Concerned Citizen,
There have been a number of “hot topics” around the State of NH over the past few years involving the siting of unsustainable energy systems, commercial water extractions, the spreading of municipal sludge on farmlands, and many others. We have been told by our current legal system that we have no right to govern our own communities.
A number of communities around the state have applied Part First, Article 10. (Right of Revolution), of the NH State Constitution to challenge the current preemptive structure. These communities have taken the step to adopt a binding Community Bill of Rights Ordinance (RBO) that claims a right to local self-government, elevates community rights above the claimed rights of corporations, recognizes the rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish, makes it a violation for any person or corporation to use state or federal preemptive law, or permits, or contracts, to override the ordinance, and calls for changes to state law and the state constitution that recognize community rights.
Many communities agree with the RBO which stems from our New Hampshire Constitution that government of right originates in the people and operates by consent, yet may not desire to pass a binding ordinance. There is still a way for you to express your support for the “spirit” of the RBO; by petitioning your town with a resolution calling for specific legislation recognizing the right to community, local self-government, to be adopted by the New Hampshire state legislature.
New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) has developed 2015 Resolution Language to encourage a state constitutional amendment. NHCRN has already begun plans to introduce the Community Rights Amendment for the 2015 legislative session and need to show our lawmakers that the people of New Hampshire support this effort. Over 8% of the population of NH currently supports the Community Rights Amendment; we need to get at least 51% of the population expressing support. This is possible by petitioning your town to pass resolution language that supports the right to community, local self-government.
If you are interested in learning more about the NHCRN resolution language for your town, or any surrounding towns, please contact me for further information.
We can do this!