By DIANE ST. GERMAIN
For the Monitor
Tuesday, September 12, 2017The right to vote in New Hampshire is being challenged. Our right to clean and fair elections is eroding.
The New Hampshire Legislature has fallen in line with the unfounded White House contention that there were illegal voters bused in from Massachusetts casting ballots in New Hampshire in the 2016 presidential election.
Bill Gardner, New Hampshire secretary of state, has embraced this false narrative as an excuse for serving on Donald Trump’s so-called Election Integrity Commission and by supporting New Hampshire voter suppression bills written by out-of-state entities with no understanding of New Hampshire and its residents.
Now, the vice chair of Trump’s commission, Kris Kobach, notorious for his aggressive efforts to disenfranchise Kansas voters, is claiming he has proof of voter fraud in New Hampshire. The data he cites is irrelevant. He is simply resurrecting false claims, playing into Trump’s delusion that he won the popular vote. It’s a feeble attempt to give legitimacy to this commission as it stages its dog and pony show today at St. Anselm College.
If our leaders and legislators were honestly interested in election integrity and defending voting rights, they would support legislation that encourages more people to vote and empowers local election officials to verify an accurate vote count. Not surprisingly, the New Hampshire Legislature and Trump’s commission are going after phantom “illegal” voters rather than achieve their purported goal of election integrity.
As if the Koch brothers’ voter ID law passed in New Hampshire wasn’t bad enough, even more ALEC-inspired voter suppression bills were passed in the last legislative session. Our legislators, so concerned about this perceived voter fraud, supported these regressive bills while steadfastly voting against legislation to protect our voting rights and verify that our votes are counted accurately by profit-producing machines.
We have several honorable New Hampshire legislators whose votes demonstrated an understanding of the need to encourage greater participation in the democratic process and who voted to assure that our vote counts could be verified. Unfortunately, there are not enough of these informed, clear-thinking representatives, so it is up to us, We the People, to assert our rights. We must take action to make sure every person of voting age is able to vote and can be guaranteed their vote matters, and to see that the electoral process is not hijacked by special interests and their legislative friends.
New Hampshire communities recognize the growing assault on our voting rights and election integrity. In the wake of recent court rulings like Citizens United, the proliferation of money in politics has increased substantially, transparency is virtually nonexistent, and the stranglehold of the corporate state on our individual and collective rights has tightened the noose around any sense of democracy. We need to assert our rights at the local level to change our form of government to one that serves and protects people over the profits of corporations and their representatives.
Given the failure of the New Hampshire Legislature to protect our votes and given its advocacy for voter suppression, we have to take action in our communities.
The New Hampshire Community Rights Network provides education about local self-governance and the development of rights-based ordinances that put communities in charge of decision-making, including demanding fair elections that are clean and verifiable.
NHCRN applauds the work of state and national organizations, along with New Hampshire state representatives, in challenging Trump’s commission. While these efforts are ongoing, we must act at the local level to challenge the underlying structures that would have us believe that We the People do not have the right to demand fair elections in our communities.
NHCRN invites all concerned about the commission and voting rights to visit the NHCRN website at nhcommunityrights.org and become partners in demanding fair, clean and verifiable elections by reclaiming local self-governance.
(Diane St. Germain of Center Barnstead is a member of the New Hampshire Community Rights Network board of directors.)