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Voter rights protesters march to advocate ballot access


Associated Press
Sunday, April 02, 2017

People marched through the streets of Concord on Sunday before holding a rally on the State House lawn where they heard about the importance of ensuring people have the ability to vote.

Marchers, estimated by organizers at about 300, walked the 1.2 miles from Concord High School to the steps of the State House in support of what they called a “strong and fair election system.”

The Sunday rally came as the Legislature is considering scores of bills that critics say would curtail voting rights, including requiring additional proof of residency from new residents.

“Some New Hampshire legislators, who claim to be patriotic and claim to love our veterans, are putting up stumbling blocks to voting for our military personnel who are living in New Hampshire,” said Ana Ford, a Navy veteran who spoke Sunday about her worries the state could make it harder for service members to cast their ballots.

Republicans’ yearslong calls for tightening the state’s voting laws gained fresh attention this year when Republican President Donald Trump alleged widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire. There is no evidence that widespread fraud exists, but Republicans argue existing state laws create the potential for fraud.

A handful of voter fraud cases have been prosecuted in recent elections.

Critics fear those changes would discourage or prevent some eligible voters – especially students and low-income residents – from casting ballots.

Sunday’s New Hampshire March for Voting Rights, which was sponsored by the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, the League of Women Voters and other groups, was moved from Saturday to Sunday because of the winter storm.

“Secure and modern elections affect all of us,” said Olivia Zink of the group Open Democracy, who marched on Sunday.

“We need to make sure that we protect everybody’s civil rights and voting rights,” she said.