Thursday, March 30, 2017

Business as Usual

The voter fraud drum began cranking up in 2006, when the GOP lost control of the NH House for the first time since the Civil War. Last year the drummers reached new heights. Before the election, Chris Sununu was on the radio in Massachusetts complaining about busloads of Mass voters interfering in our elections. Shortly after the election, Donald Trump started tweeting his displeasure about voter fraud in NH. The next thing you know, there are 40 bills before the NH legislature in 2017 that have to do with voting.

A news story at NH1 this week has the Secretary of State’s office claiming over 400 letters to newly registered voters were either not answered or not deliverable. Anyone who thinks the Secretary of State’s office should be in the investigating business ought to take a look at the SoS website. It’s a nightmare. I suggest they stop trying to play Harriet the Spy, and focus on bringing that office from the 19th to the 21st century.

This week, the full Senate will be voting on SB 3, a big, messy, voter suppression bill. A voter will be required to demonstrate their intent to be domiciled here by renting or leasing, buying a house, obtaining a NH driver’s license or non-driver ID, enrolling children in a school, listing the residence on tax forms or other government forms, providing the address to the USPS, obtaining a resident hunting or fishing license, or obtaining utility services at that place for an indefinite period. Those registering on Election Day would be required to provide proof within 10 days following the election. There is a form for a same day registrant to fill out that is approximately as long as Tolstoy’s War and Peace.

Supervisors of the checklist will be required to follow up, and do investigative work; including visiting the address or sending “agents” to verify that the individual was domiciled there on Election Day. The original bill specified those “agents” would be police. The new, amended (but not improved) bill doesn’t define who those “agents” might be. They might be the police. The might be Cub Scouts. They might be members of an interpretive dance troupe. They might be armed vigilantes. Call me crazy, but I don’t believe that casting a ballot should include the threat of storm troopers knocking at the door. Be sure to ask Senator Bradley why he’s sponsoring this nasty bit of business.

The voter suppression folks keep carping about the need to ensure the integrity of our elections. Of course, they’re the same people who have been sowing the seeds of mistrust for over a decade. If only they worked this hard at solving real problems in our state. Speaking of integrity, three bills aimed at creating independent redistricting procedures all failed. The majority party wants to be able to continue to gerrymander every 10 years without interference.

Something we could solve is child lead poisoning. We don’t have 40 bills to address this actual problem. Lead paint has been banned since the 70’s, but still, NH children are exposed to lead paint, and lead in the water from old pipes. If we cared about kids, we’d do something about this – but every time some pesky do-gooder tries, the landlords start to complain about how much it will cost to fix. It seems we value landlords more than we do children. By the time you read this, the fate of SB 247 will be decided – the sole bill aimed at protecting NH children from lead.

The legislature has new ethics rules that have expanded reporting requirements. Lawmakers are expected to file a form saying they have a conflict on any given bill. They can still file legislation to protect their business, or enhance their profits, and they can still vote on it. This form is a sort of magic fig leaf, providing the illusion of ethical cover for the many conflicts of interest our volunteer legislators have on bills they sponsor and vote on. The fig leaf has no teeth – there are no punitive actions taken against those who enrich themselves at taxpayer expense.

The Senate will be voting on SB 244 this week, a bill to increase the amount of money exempted from taxation under the interest and dividends tax for both individuals and businesses. The lead sponsor is Senator Andy Sanborn – a business owner. The Senate passed the bill once, and referred it to the Finance Committee. In the initial vote, multimillionaire State Senator Jeb Bradley recused himself, citing a conflict of interest. Andy Sanborn proudly declared he’d filed his form, and went on to vote for a bill he sponsored, that will increase his wealth.

A summary: This week the NH Senate will continue to perpetuate the illusion of a problem, fail to solve a real problem, and vote for a tax break for the already wealthy.

Business as usual.

This was published as an op-ed in the March 31, 2017 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper 


Joe said...

"Before the election, Chris Sununu was on the radio in Massachusetts complaining about busloads of Mass voters interfering in our elections."

It's easy for non citizens to voted in Massachusetts. All you need do is to fill out the local, yearly census card which only asks for the name and sex of all who occupy that dwelling, and those names will appear on the voter rolls. When you go and vote, the volunteer clerk will only ask for your name and address; no proof that you really are who you say you are. I lived in various cities in Massachusetts for over 30 years. Never was I asked even for a picture ID, let alone proof of citizenship. Ironically, I now live in an underpopulated town of just over 1000 full time residents. Guess what? Now I'm asked for a picture ID each time I go and vote! I am happy to provide a picture ID!

susanthe said...

Thanks for stopping by for storytime, Joe. Can you show us some proof of this claim?
Until you do, I'm going to assume that the Secretary of State in MA is giving us the real dirt on registering to vote.

tworavens said...

I've lived in many different states in our nation including Rhode Island. I was not fortunate enough to have been born in this wonderful country, but soon after becoming a citizen in the early 1980's have voted in every state I lived in. I never experienced a polling station NOT requesting complete information. Every state requested/requests varying levels of information, but not once since I started voting have I ever been "waved through" as some have hinted at. Where human beings are involved, there will always unfortunately be lying and fraud. But I seriously doubt it is with our voting procedures.

Joe said...

Susan, I helped someone with a green in Massachusetts navigate the admittedly complex citizenship process. One of the questions in the citizenship application (now handled by the Dept. of Homeland Security) is: "Have you ever voted in any Federal, State or local election in the United States?" I advised that person to answer it truthfully. That person was told to remove themself from the voter roll at their local city hall and provide written proof that it was done before the application could be processed. That person had indeed voted several times in the past! The fact that the question is in the application is an acknowledgement that it happens.

The census form I referred to previously, also serves as a pool for jury duty candidates in Massachusetts. The Esposito family of Boston mistakenly added their cat 'Sal' to the form as a member of the Esposito family back in 2009 and 'Sal' got called for jury duty! That mistake was quickly corrected. I suppose if you wanted to commit voter fraud, someone could've gone to the polls and identified themself as Sal Esposito, and voted! No chance of the real Sal ever finding out!

susanthe said...


You are an anonymous internet guy. I don't know you. You don't use your real name. I have no reason to trust the stories you spin, especially since they aren't backed up with any sort of proof.

You should really sharpen up your comment game. I'm not going to give you an endless forum for your fairytales.