Letter: At hearing, people denied their right to testify

Monday, April 16, 2018

At 10 a.m. on April 10, the N.H. Senate Election Law Committee held a public hearing on House Bill 1264, a bill that would severely tighten the requirements for being eligible to vote in New Hampshire.

For 45 minutes, the committee chair, Sen. Regina Birdsell, would not permit all members of the public in attendance to participate in the hearing. Hearing Room 102 was filled to overflowing, with many members of the public unable to hear or speak from their location in the hallways.

A committee member asked Birdsell (representing Derry, Hampstead and Windham) to change the location of the public hearing. She at first refused, then called a 10-minute recess, then ended the recess after 5 minutes and continued with the public hearing while staff searched for a room to accommodate all members of the public. The hearing in Room 102 continued, with many people in the hallway outside the hearing room, unable to hear or participate, until 10:45 when the hearing venue changed to a larger room.

The public has a right to attend and testify at public hearings. Birdsell took that right from the public for 45 minutes. Apparently she wants to limit the public’s right to participate in a public hearing just as much as she wants to limit the public’s right to vote in the way HB 1264 proposes. Why would the public vote for her in November?