Letter: Gardner must go

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

In September, Northern Illinois University released a report analyzing trends among states in the ease of voting during the past six presidential elections. Each state’s performance was ranked based on a “Cost of Voting” index that used 33 variables dealing with registration and voting laws. In the 1996 election, New Hampshire was rated fourth. In the 2016, the state ranked 40th.

The notoriously “frugal” secretary still has $7 million remaining from the Help America Vote Act, federal funds made available in 2003 to update voting software and modernize operations. Even more alarming is the secretary’s apparent reluctance to adopt changes that might increase the voter rolls.

If you truly believe in democracy, you would try to expand the franchise, encouraging more people to participate by making it easier to register and vote. You could, for instance, champion Automatic Voter Registration at government offices like the DMV and social services agencies. AVR would reduce errors and save money, but Bill Gardner is adamantly opposed to AVR.

If you truly believe in the right to vote, you would not erect barriers or make it more difficult for people to understand. But if you believe that voting is a privilege, then you would have no qualms about erecting barriers. This is the exclusionary “country club” view of voting.

It’s past time for Gardner to retire, and I have every confidence that Colin Van Ostern has the integrity – and the required skill set – to serve as an effective secretary of state.