June 16 - To the Editor:
When USA Springs bought land in Nottingham and Barrington about 15 years ago they were planning on extracting millions of gallons of drinking water from our bedrock aquifer. Despite widespread public opposition and environmental concerns, the state issued all the necessary permits for USA Springs to extract our drinking water to bottle and sell elsewhere.
Fortunately the people of those towns decided to stand up for themselves and got organized. With assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) we were able to pass Community Rights Ordinances that prohibited water extraction and stopped USA Springs from using our towns as “resource colonies.”
Many New Hampshire towns are being threatened with unwanted development that would be destructive to the health, safety and welfare of our communities and Mother Nature. Whether it be blocking Northern Pass power lines, protecting Great Bay, stopping gas pipe lines from going through towns, opposing industrial wind projects, or preventing sludge dumping, we and our neighbors can protect our community rights and the rights of nature if we work together.
We have a democracy crisis in our country and the question is will We the People stand up to huge corporations and the politicians that they “influence” to reclaim our right to community self-determination? That’s up to you!
The first step is to gather a few neighbors and contact the NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) for assistance. Contact the NHCRN via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, online at www.nhcommunityrights.org, or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NHCRN. The people united cannot be defeated.
Peter A. White
May 31, 2017First-in-state to elevate community rights over corporate “rights” and recognize rights of nature
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OREGON: The election results from Lincoln County, OR, are in: Lincoln residents adopted the first-in-the nation countywide Freedom from Aerial Sprayed Pesticides ordinance by 61 votes. Lincoln residents are the first in Oregon to secure people’s environmental and democratic rights, challenging the claimed “rights” of corporations. They are also the first to secure the rights of nature to exist and flourish, joining a growing number of communities across the U.S. and globally who are recognizing ecosystem rights. Measure 21-177 bans aerial sprayed pesticides as a violation of those rights.
The measure was ahead by 27 votes in the ballot count on election night (May 16th). However, there were 100 unsigned ballots that could still be counted towards the total. Those voters had until May 30th to sign their ballots, which were then added to the final count and secured the win.
Lincoln County residents have faced decades of toxic aerial pesticide spraying by the industrial timber industry. Timber corporations repeatedly aerial spray toxic pesticides on clearcuts to kill off “competing” vegetation and animals that threaten newly planted and young commodity crop trees. Residents have been working with the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF) since 2013 to protect themselves from the dangerous practice. Measure 21-177 was drafted with CELDF’s assistance.
“It’s a legacy moment for our community – out with toxic corporate chemicals and in with protecting community rights,” said Rio Davidson, campaign member of Citizens for a Healthy County. The local group spearheaded the campaign in support of Measure 21-177.
“The win in Lincoln County is a win for all of Oregon. Lincoln residents are trailblazers, leading the way for other Oregon communities to assert their right to self-govern over corporate control,” says Kai Huschke, CELDF Northwest Organizer. He noted, “This will strengthen the work of the Oregon Community Rights Network, which is advancing a state constitutional amendment that recognizes the rights of all Oregon communities to local community self-government.”
The people’s win took place despite staggering campaign contributions from timber and chemical corporations. Nearly $300,000 was spent in the attempt to defeat Measure 21-177. Lincoln County residents fought back with $16,000.
Citizens for a Healthy County and CELDF are preparing for a lawsuit, anticipating backlash from the timber industry in defiance of the vote and wishes of the people of Lincoln County. At stake: whether the right of local community self-government exercised to protect health, safety, and welfare is recognized by the courts as superior to corporate claimed “rights.”
Oregon Communities Part of Growing MovementOregon residents are advancing local democratic and environmental rights as part of the broader “community rights” movement building across the United States. Local communities and state Community Rights Networks are partnering with CELDF to advance fundamental democratic and environmental rights. They are working with CELDF to establish community rights and the rights of nature in law, and prohibit extraction, fracking, factory farming, water privatization, and other industrial activities as violations of those rights. Communities are joining together within and across states, working with CELDF to advance systemic change – recognizing our existing system of law and governance as inherently undemocratic and unsustainable.
For information on the Lincoln County campaign, go to: yes-on-21-177.org. For information on community rights efforts in Oregon visit: orcrn.org. To learn more about the Oregon state constitutional amendment, see http://oregoncommunityrights.org/.
About CELDF — Community Environmental Legal Defense FundThe Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund is a non-profit, public interest law firm providing free and affordable legal services to communities facing threats to their local environment, local agriculture, local economy, and quality of life. Its mission is to build sustainable communities by assisting people to assert their right to local self-government and the rights of nature. www.celdf.org.
In this workshop, we take an in-depth look at how political and legal structures have been set up to protect the interests of an elite wealthy minority, at the expense of the majority of people and community self-government. We’ll look at how corporations have received more rights and protections than real people living in communities, and we’ll look at how communities have pushed back against these oppressive structures to reclaim democratic self-government in their communities, and at the state level with a proposed Community Rights Amendment.
The Community Rights Movement in the Granite State began in Barnstead, with the nearly unanimous adoption of a rights-based community ordinance in 2006, to protect the “Right to Water” by banning commercial water mining. The Movement has spread to other communities across the state seeking to legalize democratic local self-governance in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of both human and natural communities. Barnstead residents picked up the Community Rights torch again in 2016 by enacting the first-in-the-nation "Freedom From Religious ID Requirement" Community Bill of Rights.
NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) is co-sponsoring this event as part of our Community Rights Awareness Campaign.
RSVP AT https://communityrightsworkshopbarnstead.eventbrite.com/
Learn more – contact NHCRN: email@example.com or JOIN us on Facebook!
WE THE PEOPLE, WE DECIDE!
Northern Pass: We the People of the Towns Should Decide!
Who should have the power to determine the destiny of our towns and cities, the people who live there or large, for-profit corporations? The local citizens should have the secured right to stop any development that harms our communities and violates our rights and the rights of nature - that's democracy!
The NH Community Rights Network (NHCRN) is here to help towns get educated and organized to pass local community rights-based ordinances that protect their interests. Participating communities have been successful in stopping unwanted exploitation in the towns of Grafton, Alexandria, Danbury, Hebron, Barnstead, Nottingham, and Barrington, and are ready to assist citizens in your town.
Look for the NHCRN banner at the Rally Against Northern Pass event and help us hand out Community Rights information that will educate communities about their right to local self-governance. NHCRN participants are meeting on the steps of the State House at 11 am. We invite you to join us!
Learn more – contact NHCRN: firstname.lastname@example.org or JOIN us on Facebook!
This is a citizens-initiated event to rally for the future of the Granite State and OPPOSE THE NORTHERN PASS.
Residents of the Alexandria remember well when lawyers representing Energias De’ Portugal (EDP) Renewables showed up for a meeting with elected officials back in July of 2014. EDP was seeking the release of a building permit for a data-collecting MET tower, required for the Spruce Ridge industrial wind project that proposed 29, 500’ feet tall wind turbines to a number of towns in the Newfound and Mt. Cardigan regions.
In 2013, residents adopted a resolution opposing industrial wind projects at the Alexandria Town Meeting. In 2014, residents overwhelmingly adopted a Right to a Sustainable Energy Future rights-based ordinance (RBO). That RBO prohibits unsustainable energy projects in Alexandria which the Ordinance defines in part, as "hydroelectric power and industrial scale wind power when it is not locally or municipally owned and operated..." It is sure that EDP representatives expected opposition from residents, but it was obvious during the July 2014 meeting that EDP’s lawyers were not expecting elected officials to represent the vote of the people.
Selectmen at that July 2014 meeting refused to approve the conditions of the MET tower building permit, as two of the three stood on the grounds of representing the will of the people that had consistently voted against industrial wind in Alexandria. Their moral resolve triggered legal papers served to the Town by EDP to force the issuance of the building permit.
It was clear in the legal papers filed by EDP against the Town of Alexandria that their intent was to bully the elected officials and residents into being exploited as a resource colony for profit. EDP attempted to override the right of the people of Alexandria to protect the health, safety and welfare of both human and natural communities. The selectmen eventually released the building permit to EDP to avoid a lawsuit, but after receiving the MET tower building permit, EDP never erected the tower.
Bullying by EDP inspired Community Rights activists to propose another binding, rights-based ordinance in 2015 to specifically prohibit "exploratory data collection" used in the "application for any permit necessary to engage in unsustainable wind resource extraction." That covers MET towers and all the other data required to proceed with the determining the viability of siting an industrial wind facility.
Now, a year-and-a-half later, the Town of Alexandria has received a cancelation notice, effective 4/23/17, on the bond to cover the erection and removal of the MET tower for the Spruce Ridge Industrial Wind Project by EDP Renewables. The bond requirement was one of the conditions placed upon EDP for the building permit.
More good news was received when residents learned that EDP Renewables withdrew their ISO-NE Interconnection Queue Request for the Spruce Ridge project effective 4/10/17. The act of withdrawing an ISO-NE request for a proposed project indicates the developer no longer has intentions of pursuing that project to generate energy to feed into the regional grid.
Standing up against the power-posturing of corporate giants is not new to residents of Alexandria. Community Rights activists celebrated the defeat of another industrial wind developer – Iberdrola – in the fall of 2014 when they too, withdrew their ISO-NE Interconnection Queue Request for the Wild Meadows wind facility. That withdrawal occurred the day after the towns of Danbury, Alexandria, and Hebron enacted rights-based Sustainable Energy Ordinances prohibiting the siting of industrial-scale wind facilities at their 2014 Town Meetings. Grafton was the first of the towns affected by the proposed Wild Meadows facility to enact the same rights-based ordinance at their 2013 Town Meeting.
Residents of the Newfound and Mt. Cardigan regions have denied exploitation of our ridgelines, water quality, sensitive ecosystems, a healthy local economy, and our right to self-govern TWICE in the past three years! This is a day to celebrate, as it marks the end of EDP's intent to move forward with the Spruce Ridge project. However, this does not mean the end of our diligence in protecting the health, safety and welfare of the people and natural communities of the region. Community Rights activists encourage residents to continue participating with local select board and planning board meetings to keep up on who might be seeking to force your community into hosting a project that violates the rights of human and natural communities.
Michelle Sanborn is a resident of Alexandria and chair of Citizens of Alexandria Rights Effort (CARE Group), coordinator for NH Community Rights Network, and community organizer for Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). Join CARE Group and NHCRN on Facebook. Visit NHCRN on the web at www.nhcommunityrights.org , and if you would like to talk about issues violating your Community Rights, you can reach out to email@example.com.
Testimony Opposing SB 3 as Passed on a Party Line Vote in the Senate
To Honorable Members of the House Election Law Committee:
A former teacher and reporter, I have been involved with NH voting rights and election integrity issues since early 2008. Both branches of my family have deep roots in NH. At least 12 NH ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.
1. Students who attend school in NH should be able to vote here without having to register their car. Students were “counted” where they were living on April 1, 2010 and those numbers were included in determining representative districts and federal grant money.
2. Campaign workers who are here for political campaigns only should NOT vote in NH. Agreement among the political parties would be preferable to passing a “law.”
3. Research conducted by the NH Civil Liberties Union in 2015 found no evidence of double voting or “voter fraud” that this bill is SUPPOSED to prevent. At lease one example cited by Sen. Birdsell in her endorsement of the bill ( a woman who had voted for her deceased husband.probably by absentee ballot) would already be covered by current law, if enforced. Unfortunately, she refused to share the “evidence” of voter fraud she received from the Secretary of State, but I believe current law would be adequate to deal with those cases as well.
4. It appears that this proposed “law” models what Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has done. So far, the “results” (9 voters charged, 8 of them Republicans) do not seem to be worth the cost in time and resources, especially when, if passed, will likely face legal action and drain the NH’s limited financial and people resources (Attorney General’s time).
I am concerned about the possible disenfranchisement of voters now that NH will use Kobach’s Crosscheck program. He is not the model we should follow.
5. People registering to vote in NH should not have to pay to have a lawyer present when they do. The language in the amended version is extremely confusing and appears to contradict itself. It SAYS students can vote here, but then makes it likely they would be violating the law if they did. That is a hugely unfair burden on ANY voter, especially the ones more likely to be short-term residents of particular communities, even if they would CHOOSE to stay if they could.
6. Since I followed both the Rivers and Guare cases, this “law” appears to violate the same constitutional rights cited there, NH CONST., pt. 1, art. 1; art,, 2; art. 10; art. 11; art. 14 and US CONST. Amen. XIV, sect. 1; US CONST. Amen. XXIV, sect. 1. The state already lost those cases. Is it necessary to fight it and lose again? Public trust in our government and in you is lost at the same time.
7. This is a definite step backwards for voting rights and our inalienable right to free and fair elections in NH. I urge the committee to recommend ITL and make sure ANY law curtailing voting rights is narrowly tailored to achieve a specific and LEGITIMATE objective. Suppressing votes for a particular political party, as it appears is the REAL intention of this bill, is discriminatory, illegitimate and unconstitutional.
Posted: Thursday, April 6, 2017 12:00 pm
The Blizzard of 2017: Who will ever forget it, that late-season Nor’easter that dumped over a foot of snow in some places, caused road accidents and power outages, and had winds blowing over 50 mph — on none other than town Election Day? The blizzard wreaked havoc, and now so is our state government: officials are attempting to empower towns to nullify the majority vote from town meetings across the state.
State officials, siting safety concerns, encouraged people to stay home. They urged businesses to close. And local officials began notifying state officials they were postponing town elections to keep people off the roads.
Those decisions to postpone town elections were not done lightly. They were based on the state’s directive that motorists avoid driving, reports from local road crews that they could not keep up with the rate of snowfall, input from concerned citizens, and the N.H. Municipal Association. The association informed town officials they had authority to postpone elections due to the weather emergency, citing RSA 40:4 II as authorization for the postponement. However, confusion and a lack of clarity came from state election officials over just how to interpret election law.
Maybe most of us didn’t give the postponing of town meeting much thought. Bad weather, unsafe roads: surely local election officials should be able to make governing decisions about local matters and decide in favor of public safety. And so, the vote was postponed in towns across New Hampshire. Not everywhere, but in nearly 80 communities.
Voters showed up on the rescheduled day. Some towns showed a higher voter turnout than last year — they came, voted, and went on their way. Newly elected officials were sworn in and went about the business of serving the public.
It was logical and sensible for the public to accept postponement of town elections due to impassable roads and safety concerns. However, our election, our votes and the legitimacy of our public officials has been cast into doubt by state officials who appear offended that local officials — and not the central government apparatus — made the call to postpone.
Of course, postponing elections created some legal uncertainties around bond issues and such, but that was easy enough to remedy with a bill proposed by Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn. Senate Bill 248 was simple, straightforward and sensible — like most Granite Staters. The bill Sen. Woodburn proposed would have “ratified actions, votes, and proceedings of town and school district meetings and elections postponed due to the weather emergency on March 14, 2017.” Commonsense legislation with the intent to protect local decision-making authority.
State election officials didn’t like the proposed legislation because it condoned the actions taken by local election officials against the opinion of state political operatives. Sen. Woodburn’s bill was smothered by the Senate Election Law Committee when members amended it to establish a committee to study the rescheduling of elections.
Instead of protecting the actions of local officials and accepting the majority vote of townspeople, House Speaker Shawn Jasper has amended SB 108, assaulting direct democracy in New Hampshire communities. SB 108 forces voters to hold special elections, at no small cost to our communities. The special elections require voters in communities where election day was postponed, to now “ratify” the votes taken on the rescheduled election dates.
That “ratification” won’t take place until May. Meanwhile, decisions made by voters at the polls are on hold, their votes vetoed legislatively, their elected officials held in suspended animation. Worst of all, Speaker Jasper’s hand grenade of an amendment says that if voters in May reject the snow-day results, then all votes cast will be null and void, all warrant articles will be deemed to have been defeated, and all the positions voted for will be vacant.
Really? Since when do voters get to vote to support or negate the votes of their neighbors and overturn adopted warrant articles? This is rich, Mister Speaker!
We all know how the votes played out in our communities and the public has accepted them. But now, if you didn’t like how the vote went in your town, you get the opportunity to campaign again for an additional month. You have until May 23 to re-influence the vote. This is the “solution” to a snow day postponement. One is tempted to wonder what alternate candidates, warrant articles and outcomes the speaker and his confidants might prefer win this time around.
State political operatives are requiring towns to hold a “special meeting” on a date dictated by the state, with the question before the voters being determined by the state. This amounts to an unfunded state-mandate while nullifying the vote of the people. New Hampshire, with the motto of “Live Free or Die” is at the threshold of state elected officials unashamedly taking complete control over our towns. It is not enough to have the right to vote when governments are able to decide not only how we vote and determine what we vote for, but even whether we can vote — and if that vote will matter.
Michelle Sanborn of Alexandria is coordinator for the N.H. Community Rights Network.
March 27 - To the Editor,With alarming frequency, daily new stories chronicle the perilous state of our environment. Climate change brings increasing temperatures and more erratic weather that is associated with floods, droughts, and wildfires. According to NOAA, climate-related disasters cost 138 lives and over $40 billion in damage in 2016 alone. Last year, drought conditions led more than 150 New Hampshire community water systems to impose restrictions, especially in the heavily populated southern third of the state. Toxins in our air, water, and soil threaten biodiversity and compromise our health. On the Seacoast, a pediatric cancer cluster has raised concerns about possible water, air, or other environmental links to childhood illnesses, and the discovery of PFOA and other chemicals in community water supplies has triggered an ongoing investigation by the Department of Environmental Services. Together, climate change and pollution add mightily to the ongoing demands that development places on nature and our increasingly scarce, hence ever-more-valuable, resources.
Environmental threats compromise the rights of nature, the scenic beauty of our communities, and our health. The environmental crisis we face has coincided with a crisis of democracy. Corporate profit-seeking too often trumps the interests and even the democratic will of citizens in their own municipalities. Powerful corporations and their lobbyists exert disproportionate influence over state and federal law-making, and since the 2010 Citizens United ruling, the role of big money in politics has only increased. The current framework allows corporations to pollute the environment and pursue energy projects, resource extraction, or water privatization without duly accounting for the local priorities of those most affected by such ventures.
Citizens of the state have a right to protect their health and well-being. They have a responsibility to be good stewards of the environment and to defend the rights of nature. And they can best do this in the context of their own communities, where threats to human rights and the rights of nature have the most visibility, immediacy, and the power to generate strong resistance. Citizens in Alexandria, Barnstead, Barrington, Nottingham, Plymouth and elsewhere have coalesced around locally-enacted Rights-based Ordinances that endeavor to restore the democratic rights of residents and protect the rights of nature at the local level. The New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) supports these efforts and has worked to return power to people and their municipal governments. Interested citizens can obtain more information about the work of the NHCRN by visiting www.nhcommunityrights.org or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
New Hampshire Community Rights Network Board of Directors, Portsmouth
Dear Honorable Members of the NH Senate,
Vote “no” on SB3.
If passed, SB3 will result in voter suppression and make voting in New Hampshire cumbersome. The very idea that it could include police (Gestapo tactics?) knocking on doors of registrants to ask for their papers smacks of Third Reich policies from the 1940’s. It is abhorrent that the New Hampshire Senate has promoted a bill like this.
SB3 is a solution in search of a problem based on superficial beliefs with no significant data to back it up. Rationalizing by referencing fake news like bus loads of people coming from Massachusetts to vote in NH is insidious. There are real problems of cyber security that affect the vote count system demonstrated by Russian email invasions as well as software 'bug' debacles as demonstrated recently by VW. A problem worthy of a solution is to insure that votes in New Hampshire are recorded accurately.
The Diebold-vote machines found in most New Hampshire communities are vulnerable to manipulation and corruption as reported by knowledgeable University software professors. The New Hampshire Legislature refuses to allow sample post-election hand counts to verify our votes have been counted accurately by the machines. No candidate who runs for election (local, state, and national) in New Hampshire can be confident they won or lost because the legislature is focused on promoting useless, resource-wasting bills like SB3.
Pandering to Donald Trump and Chris Sununu may be hazardous to your next election cycle. Democracy is hard, do your homework.
Vote “no” on SB3.
Pat and Ray Waterman
New Hampshire Community Rights Network
102 Lakeview Hts., Alexandria, NH 03222
Re: HB-368, an act relative to the heating of certain state-owned buildings in Concord and making appropriations therefor.
Dear Mr. Chairman and Senate Capital Budget Committee Members,
NH Community Rights Network assists communities in elevating their right to protect themselves and the places they live, for the sake of the health, safety and welfare of residents, local economies, social justice, and environmental sustainability. NH Community Rights Network opposes HB 368 and encourages you to do the same.
HB 368 is special interest legislation. There is nothing wrong with corporations making a profit and having legislative support of projects. But the decision to move forward with such projects against the will of affected communities and ecosystems reveals corporate determination to exercise its claimed "right" to profit at the cost of communities wanting to protect their health, safety and welfare, economic sustainability, and natural environment.
Residents impacted by the production, transportation and use of additional fracked-gas infrastructure in the Granite State are expressing opposition to such harmful activities. Just think back to the withdrawn Kinder Morgan, Northeast Energy Direct pipeline project. Any expressed support for fracked-gas infrastructure by politicians, lobbyists and those that are in a position to profit from these projects, in the face of significant opposition from those most affected, does not justify your support nor does it constitute any statewide benefits.
The plan to shut down Concord Steam and convert it to a fracked-gas burning plant at an exorbitant cost to Granite Staters is simply put, bad legislation. Liberty Utilities is looking to use New Hampshire as a resource colony for profit. Not giving affected communities a final say in the matter is inconsistent with the rights enumerated for residents in our state constitution or our long history of local decision-making through Town Meeting.
The State is charged with protecting the rights of residents, not corporations. Part 1, Art. 31 of the New Hampshire Constitution makes clear the purpose of the meeting of the New Hampshire legislature, “The legislature shall assemble for the redress of public grievances and for making such laws as the public good may require.” The state constitution does not say that your purpose is to make such laws as special interests may require.
Clearly, Part 1, Art. 8 of the state constitution makes your job very easy; “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.” Listen, do not just hear the voice of the people – for your power is derived from the people and you are at all times accountable to the people.
NHCRN opposes HB 368 because the conversion of Concord Steam from a NH-sourced wood product biofuel to fracked-gas to benefit Liberty Utilities does not protect the health, safety or welfare of human or natural communities. I urge you to vote ITL on HB 368.
NHCRN Coordinator, Board of Directors
New Hampshire Community Rights Network
102 Lakeview Hts., Alexandria, NH 03222
Re: SB 3, an act relative to domicile for voting purposes.
Dear Madam Chairwoman and Election Law Committee Members,
NH Community Rights Network was founded to educate and empower communities and elected officials about our individual and collective right to local self-governance in order to secure and protect the inherent and unalienable rights of all inhabitants of New Hampshire to economic, social and environmental equality and justice, including the rights of nature.
SB 3 does not propose to protect or expand the voting rights of people within the Granite State. Quite the opposite, this bill proposes to infringe upon the voting rights of those people that may rightfully vote according to existing law and yet somehow find themselves not meeting such a definition of domicile. Therefore, NH Community Rights Network stands opposed to SB 3 and encourages you to vote ITL.
Law is organic and should change with social needs demanding that protections be specifically extended to human beings that simply want the very same protections that others enjoy. Individuals that “fall through the cracks” of defined domicile will not receive the same protection of their voting rights as those individuals that clearly do meet such a definition. Part 1, Art. 31 of the New Hampshire Constitution makes clear the purpose of the meeting of the New Hampshire legislature, “The legislature shall assemble for the redress of public grievances and for making such laws as the public good may require.” SB 3 is a proposed law that would restrict voting rights, which is not for the public good and therefore should receive a unanimous vote of ITL by the members of this committee.
Clearly, Part 1, Art. 8 (Accountability of Magistrates and Officers) of the New Hampshire Constitution makes your job very easy, “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.” I urge you to respond to, not just hear the voice of the people – for your power is derived from the people and you are at all times accountable to the people. Maintaining election integrity is important. The Granite State already has in place, a state constitution and existing laws regarding the voting rights of those that inhabit this state. Let’s not create a problem where there isn’t one.
NH Community Rights Network assists communities in elevating their right to protect themselves and the places they live, for the sake of social equality and justice through the right of local community self-governance. It is not enough to have the right to vote when corporations and governments are able to influence not only how we vote and determine what we vote for, but even whether we can vote. SB 3 is a voter restriction bill and should be recommended ITL by the committee.
NHCRN Coordinator, Board of Directors
http://www.laconiadailysun.com/opinion/letters/102380-michelle-sanborn-2-27Senate Bill 109 was voted down last week by the state Senate. They refused to authorize town moderators to perform a public, random, verification count on vote-counting machines. With only voiced support for SB-109 from a few senators, it is clear that the New Hampshire Senate would rather assume vote-counting machines are accurate than to have evidence of their accuracy.
An amendment was recommended by prime sponsor, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark during the session, but the Senate would not overturn the committee recommendation (3-2 ITL) in order to consider the amendment. The amendment addressed concerns expressed by the Attorney General's office.
In order for the governed to give consent (as articulated in Part 1, Art. 1 of the New Hampshire Constitution) and hold elected officials accountable (as Part 1, Art. 8 of the New Hampshire Constitution declares is their right) through a vote cast, people in each town, city, ward and unincorporated place have a fundamental right to vote (as we see in Part 1, Art. 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution) and receive a verified accurate vote count.
The responsibility for verifying the accuracy of that vote count is held within each community and constitutionally assigned to the town moderators. But the Granite State is approaching 90 percent of municipalities using secret, proprietary software in vote-counting devices without any specific clarity or method to a moderator's constitutional duty to verify the accuracy of the vote-counting machines. SB-109 proposed a means and a method for town moderators to fulfill their constitutional duties and state law where vote-counting devices are used.
Moderators take an oath pursuant to Part 2, Art. 84 of the New Hampshire Constitution and are bound by Part 2, Art. 32 to govern the election process, to openly oversee the counting of votes on election night and make a public declaration of an accurate vote count. In a better political climate, SB-109 might not be necessary, but town moderators have recently had their constitutional authority questioned and challenged by state election officials, and it is absolutely necessary to reaffirm in explicit law, authority that empowers moderators to fulfill their constitutional duty to openly and accurately verify votes counted by vote-counting devices.
Why do state election officials and our senators object to town moderators fulfilling their constitutional duties and numerous state laws that hold them accountable for an accurate vote count? Reach out to your senator and ask how they voted on SB-109. Go to (http://www.nhcommunityrights.org/news--updates/an-accurate-vote-count-doesnt-count-in-nh) for additional information to assist you in speaking with your senator about SB-109.
New Hampshire Community Rights Network (NHCRN) stood up for election integrity and one of our most basic civil rights, our right to vote and have our vote counted accurately by supporting and providing testimony in favor of SB-109. Join "NHCRN" on Facebook or visit them online at www.nhcommunityrights.org to learn about educational opportunities and sign up to receive newsletters and updates about the Community Rights Movement. NHCRN is a grassroots, non-profit organization of community rights efforts, educating and empowering communities and elected officials about our right to local self-governance.
It is not good enough to say, after every election, “We can’t prove fraud.” We need evidence that vote counts are accurate.
Diane St. Germain
NHCRN Board of Directors
Center Barnstead, NH
Right to work for less, voter suppression, welfare wages, pipelines, transmission lines, contaminated water, contaminated air, and threats to healthcare, public education, job security and LGBTQ and immigrant families and minority communities — who isn’t feeling battered by the daily assaults on our quality of life and our planet?
Our local, state, and national struggles to rein in the assumed power of corporations and their lobbyists swarming the New Hampshire legislature and U.S. Congress have left us exhausted yet committed more than ever to make things right.
Many of us are questioning how long we can hold up, given issues popping up like whack-a-mole in every facet of our lives. We’re pulled in a million directions and our efforts become diluted as we get bogged down in fighting permits, government appointments, legislation that undermines job security, civil rights, voting rights and on and on.
SB 109 was voted down in the NH Senate yesterday with a voice vote refusing to authorize Town Moderators to perform a public, random, verification count on vote-counting machines.
An amendment was recommended by prime sponsor, Sen. Martha Fuller Clark during the session, but other members of the Senate would not overturn the committee recommendation in order to consider the amendment. The amendment addressed concerns expressed by the Attorney General's office.
Read more about it here: http://us12.campaign-archive2.com/?u=d7dc9b9ebb731d9f1f94dee44&id=fd86271669&e=9dd25a4e30
To Honorable Members of the NH Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee:
A puzzled public is trying to comprehend what may have happened in the 2016 presidential election. Growing numbers of concerned citizens have come forward, calling for evidence that supports accusations of a "rigged" election. They question: If Russia could do it from the outside, certainly it could be done from the inside.
With increasing awareness, public thought turns to how our computers count votes secretly (out of the public eye), using secret proprietary software vulnerable to hacking. Computer security expert Dr. Herbert Hugh Thompson, Adjunct Professor in the Computer Science Department at Columbia University, "determined not only how easy it was to hack into the GEMS software, but also how simple it was to change votes inside the system without leaving any record of the change behind." http://www.ninaillingworth.com/2016/04/28/hacking-democracy-2006-hbo-documentary-wicked-game-prologue/
"The real issue," says Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org: "Our right to self-government, and how current election systems have stripped away necessary public controls." "Why hacking demos are now insanity (toward more effective approaches)" March 2011.
In lieu of the above vulnerabilities, and the fact that more and more citizens want to know their votes are protected, it is difficult to understand why our State will not allow moderators to exercise their authority to conduct checks and balances on election night. The State's intervention has stripped away the only means possible for moderators to do so. Amended bill, SB 109, will protect the moderator’s right to exercise his or her duty to conduct crucial random verification hand-counts.
Remember your oath. Uphold the Constitution and stand behind the amended SB 109 on Feb. 23. There is no good reason for not supporting such a common sense public procedure. In a Democracy, voters should never be forced to "blindly trust," unverified results tabulated in secret.
Committee members, NH Senate, this is your opportunity to let moderators provide voters evidence they are contributing to an honest democratic vote-counting process, rather than a sham, which it is without verification and citizen oversight. Old English law (1703)https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashby_v_White still holds true: the right to vote includes the right to examine an election to know votes were counted and recorded accurately.
FAQ on SB 109(Amended)
What does SB 109 do? SB 109 as amended, proposes to clarify moderators' authority to randomly and openly conduct a verification count of machine-counted ballots, after polls close, but prior to attesting to the accuracy of the vote. This bill provides a method for moderators to comply with the duties they take an oath to uphold in Part 2, Art. 32 of the NH Constitution, state law, and the right of the people to an accurate vote count. SB 109 as amended provides an opportunity for moderators to assure themselves and voters that the machine count is accurate.
Does SB 109 require moderators to perform a verification count? No. The moderator may, at his or her discretion conduct a verification count of machine-counted ballots.
Aren't the vote-counting machines used in NH secure from intentional or unintentional tampering? Although the actual vote-counting machines used in NH are not connected to the internet directly, the secret proprietary software programmed onto the memory cards for each election can receive undetectable, intended and unintended viruses or malware from the programming computer owned and operated by a private industry - which can then infect numerous voting machines once inserted.
Would SB 109A require multiple changes in our election laws? SB 109A is consistent with all currently existing election laws.
How does the Moderator choose which machines and which races to verify? The amended version of SB 109 states that if the moderator chooses to do a verification count, the machines and races to be counted MUST be publicly and randomly selected - such as with the roll of a die, or picked out of hat. Under the amended version, no one person, not even the moderator is free to select a particular machine or race for the verification count.
Does SB 109A change any requirements regarding "pre-election testing" of vote-counting machines? SB 109A in no way, changes any requirements with respect to "pre-election testing" as described under current law.
Who would be authorized to conduct the verification count? There are many references in current law (RSA 658:5, 658:7, 658:14, and 659:58) to the right and duty of the moderator to appoint as many election officials as deemed necessary. The assistants referred to in SB 109A would be sworn in under RSA 658:7 at which point they become election officials. Nothing in SB 109A changes any of these laws.
Does SB 109A affect voter intent on ballots? SB 109A does not address the issue of voter intent therefore, RSA 659:64 would remain the governing statute of who decides voter intent.
Is a verification count the same thing as a recount? No. RSA 660:1 through RSA 660:31 describes the process for recounts. SB 109A clearly states that candidates are free to request a recount under RSA 660 whether or not their race is involved in a randomly selected verification count. Verification counts have the potential to reduce requests for expensive recounts.
Re: various proposed election law changes, public hearings scheduled for Feb. 7
To Honorable Members of the House Election Law Committee
I am a former teacher and reporter and have been involved with NH voting rights and election integrity issues since early 2008. Both branches of my family have deep roots in NH. At least 12 NH ancestors fought in the Revolutionary War.
I oppose HB 622, allowing all votes to be cast absentee. I am not convinced current absentee voting is secure (example, ballots are not accounted for). Other states have reported significant problems with their vote by mail systems and although I want every voter to be able to VOTE, I support continuing the “need only” system NH uses now.
Re: HB 372, 651, 552, 588, I will let the Legislature decide if you believe they are needed. But I am DEEPLY concerned that in recent years the NH government shows it is MORE concerned about preventing the possibility a few ineligible voters will vote and making it more complicated and intimidating for those who don’t live in the same place in the same town as I have for the past 35 years., than in protecting our fundamental and inalienable right to know our votes are counted and reported accurately.
There also appears to be a concerted effort to keep students from voting in NH even though they are counted in the census as residents (as of April 1, 2010) of the community where they were attending school and their numbers are included in determining federal funds and voting districts.
With 87,5% of all votes now counted by computer, in violation of a number of election laws and our state Constitution, the state fails to protect our fundamental right to have our votes counted and reported accurately and the constitutional requirement of a publicly observed vote count (NHCONST. pt. 2, article 32) so that we KNOW the election results for our communities are true.
Did you know:
IF those were legal votes (but not counted) and IF that percentage was constant in AccuVote communities statewide, Donald Trump, Kelly Ayotte and Colin Van Ostern may have actually WON in November. Then add to that total, the number of “under votes” which were not counted by the computer but could be determined by people….
Because NH is in violation of our constitution, the public is not allowed to participate in the oversight process and NOT ALLOWED TO KNOW if our elections are legitimate or not. That is a HUGE PROBLEM that undermines public confidence in the reported results.
Evidently 1.5% of all NH ballots cast did NOT include a vote for President. (The “normal” rate is .5% of voters choosing not to vote in a presidential race.)
Do you care about that? Do you agree with me that we have a HUGE problem? Would anyone be willing to work with me and other concerned citizens to try and make sure that in our NEXT election, we will KNOW that election results are legitimate and reflect the will of NH voters?
Please let me know if you have any questions. Hope to hear from you.
Spokane Arrestees Sue U.S. Government: Seek to Overturn Federal Preemption of Local Health and Safety Laws Concerning Coal and Oil Trains
CELDF filed a lawsuit against the federal government - arguing that federal law violates our constitutional right to a healthy climate.
CELDF filed the lawsuit on behalf of Spokane, WA, residents. The suit asserts that federal law - which preempts communities from banning fossil fuel rail shipments - violates the constitutional right to a healthy climate and local self-government.
With the new president claiming climate change is a "hoax," people and communities are turning resistance into action.
SB 109 and HB 145 Updates:
City councils, state legislators, state agencies, and U.S. senators and representatives have shown that they are either powerless to — or simply won't — protect the people from corporate harms. The industry and its minions have shut off every legal avenue to protect our communities and residents. There is no alternative to right this blatant injustice other than accept our moral responsibility and use nonviolent civil disobedience to break unjust laws.
Merrily Mazza is a member of Lafayette City Council.