CONCORD — The Democratically controlled state legislature advanced its efforts to repeal election-related laws passed by Republicans in 2017 and 2018 with several key votes by the House Election Law Committee on Thursday.
In a party line, 12-8 vote, the House committee endorsed a Senate-passed bill (SB 67) regarding residency and domicile for purposes of voting.
The change would restore the law to wording that existed prior to 2018, making it more likely that out-of-state college students would choose to vote in New Hampshire.
Also in a party line vote, the committee endorsed a Senate-passed bill (SB 68) allowing the release of detailed information from the state’s voter database by court-order.
Democrats and other plaintiffs are suing the state to block implementation of a new law regarding procedures for voter registration, SB 3. They sought information from the voter database to make their case, and last year Republicans passed a bill specifically precluding the release of voter information under those circumstances.
The committee recommended the House kill a Senate-passed bill that would prohibit candidates for Secretary of State from contributing to House or Senate political campaigns (SB 66).
New Hampshire’s longtime Secretary of State Bill Gardner survived a serious challenge from former Executive Councilor and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Colin Van Ostern in January, eking out a four-vote win in a joint session of House and Senate.
In the aftermath of that election, lawmakers who supported Gardner filed bills in the House and Senate regarding races for Secretary of State.
The House bill would prohibit candidates for Secretary of State from accepting political contributions, while the Senate bill would prohibit them from making political contributions.
The House version was defeated in February, and it now looks like the Senate version will be defeated as well.
One thing both parties on the House Election Law Committee agreed to support is a bill that finally settles the question of who has the authority to reschedule town elections due to major storms or other emergencies.
Last year the House passed a bill giving that power to town moderators, while the Senate passed a bill giving it to the Secretary of State. The two sides couldn’t agree and the matter remained unresolved.
This year, Republicans and Democrats have rallied behind SB 104, which gives the moderators and town officials the right to reschedule in consultation with the Secretary of State.
That bill will go to the House floor with a 20-0 endorsement from its Election Law Committee.
The full House will vote on the bills on May 8 or May 9.