Letter: Gardner has made voting more difficult

Published: 12/4/2018 12:01:11 AM

Bill Gardner and his supporters argue that he should continue as secretary of state because he is “nonpartisan.” I don’t know Gardner’s politics, but during his 42-year tenure New Hampshire has become one of the 10 most difficult states in which to vote. This is bad for democracy.

Republican or Democrat, it is essential that the SOS make it his mission to engage every New Hampshire resident in the democratic process. According to a study out of the University of Northern Illinois comparing the time and effort it takes to vote in all 50 states, New Hampshire dropped from fourth easiest state in the country to vote in 1996 to 40th in 2016. This precipitous drop is the result of Gardner’s failure to allocate funds available to modernize the voting system.

For instance, I registered voters in Manchester on Election Day. Numerous people who were registered to vote elsewhere in New Hampshire and had moved recently to Ward 3 experienced delays when they arrived to cast their ballots. Anyone who moves from one voting ward to another in New Hampshire has to re-register, which means finding time to go to city hall before Election Day or waiting in long lines on Election Day. None of this would be necessary if Gardner had used funds available to him to implement electronic voter checklists or online voter registration.

Whether one thinks Gardner is partisan or nonpartisan, his refusal to enter the 21st century has thwarted democracy in New Hampshire.



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