Hassan vetoes 30-day wait to vote in New Hampshire
By GARRY RAYNO
State House Bureau
Gov. Maggie Hassan said requiring people to live in the state for 30-days to be eligible to vote does nothing to prevent voter fraud.
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CONCORD — A bill that would require a 30-day waiting period to vote was vetoed Friday by Gov. Maggie Hassan who said the bill places unreasonable restrictions on citizens’ voting rights.
The bill also attempts to better define domicile for voting as the primary residence or abode. The change would more closely align domicile with a person’s residency.
"The constitutional right of all citizens to vote is the most fundamental right of our democracy, and we must always be working to ensure that people who are legally domiciled in New Hampshire are not blocked from voting," Hassan said in her veto statement. "Senate Bill 179 places unreasonable restrictions upon all New Hampshire citizens’ right to vote in this state with an arbitrary timeline that will prevent lawful residents from taking part in the robust citizen democracy that we are so proud of in the Granite State."
The bill had the backing of Secretary of State Bill Gardner and was approved largely down party lines in the House and Senate, but not by the two-thirds majority needed to override a veto.
Supporters say it would end "drive-by voting" by people who are in the state for a short period of time and who intend to move on but vote in an election, such as political campaign workers or consultants.
Under the bill, a person would have to be a resident of the state for at least 30 days before he or she could vote in an election.
The state has long had same-day voter registration in order to avoid "motor-voter" requirements mandated by the federal government, and the bill would upend that system, Hassan said.
Republican lawmakers said they were disappointed in Hassan’s veto.
Senator Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, said SB 179 was a responsible bill that would have restored meaningful elections and ensured the votes of legal residents are not diluted.
"This bill has the full support of New Hampshire's official on voting laws, Secretary of State William Gardner, who says it will protect the state from voter fraud and drive-by voting without infringing on an individual’s right to vote," Carson said.
House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan, R-Brookline, said the bill would have implemented reasonable reforms to ensure ballots are cast by qualified voters.
"Our citizens should have a reasonable expectation that their vote will not be cancelled out by temporary visitors," he said. "Under our existing laws our doors are still technically open for people with little intent on staying here to participate in (the presidential) primary. That seems unfair to most people, and it’s unfair to the process we hold so dear."
But Hassan said along with violating the constitutional rights of voters, the bill would discourage people from moving to New Hampshire in the days before an election.
"We want to encourage individuals and their families to move to our state and, upon doing so, offer them all the rights and protections of being a New Hampshire citizen," Hassan wrote. "This includes the right to participate in our democratic process and vote in our elections regardless of whether an individual moves to New Hampshire 29 days before an election or 31 days before an election."
She said the bill does nothing to prevent voter fraud, but does restrict the rights of people who are constitutionally eligible to vote.
The State Supreme Court earlier this year struck down a similar attempt to align voting domicile with residency requirements.
The court ruled unconstitutional a bill requiring people registering to vote to sign an affidavit that stated they were subject to the state's residency laws, "including laws requiring a driver to register a motor vehicle and apply for a New Hampshire driver's license within 60 days of becoming a resident."
The court said the language is confusing and susceptible to different interpretations.
The House and Senate return to Concord Sept. 16 to vote on the bills Hassan has vetoed, including the two budget bills, House Bills 1 and 2.