My Turn: Fighting back against disenfranchisement

For the Monitor
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

This week the New Hampshire Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against the voter suppression bill known as Senate Bill 3. We refuse to stand idly by while Republicans try to strip away voting rights based on lies.

In November, Gov. Chris Sununu lied about voter fraud in New Hampshire, saying Democrats were busing over voters from Massachusetts. This lie has been debunked time after time. It’s the Republican Party’s favorite lie to use around election time. But its inaccuracy didn’t stop Donald Trump from parroting the same exact lie just after his inauguration.

We know that Republicans across the country are trying to shrink the voting pool to give themselves a better chance to win, and that’s exactly what SB 3 does: It uses the “belief” of voter fraud, not credible evidence, to make it harder for eligible Granite Staters to register and vote.

SB 3 exposes eligible voters to criminal penalties simply for failing to understand or comply with confusing paperwork. It makes you sign a different form if you’re registering 31 days out as compared to 30 days out. It makes you prove not just that you live here, but that you intend to stay here.

If you can’t provide that information more than a month before Election Day, you will be turned away from registering. If you can’t provide this information within 30 days of an election, you will be subject to voter fraud investigation, including government officials knocking on your door and asking to see your papers.

These intentionally confusing and intimidating practices created under SB 3 and signed into law by Gov. Sununu disproportionately affect New Hampshire’s young, low-income and minority voters, all of whom are eligible to vote in the state.

This legislation will also make long lines at polling places even longer, making it harder for poll workers to process voters and dissuading potential voters who can’t afford to wait all day to cast their constitutionally guaranteed vote.

This attack on voting rights is not new. In fact, the fight for voting rights is a tragically common part of our history. But we cannot stand for New Hampshire Republicans trying to take us back to the 1960s or the 1920s or the 1860s, when voting was earned, not guaranteed.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party is standing up for the rights of all Granite Staters. We respect the proud first-in-the-nation tradition, and when even one voter faces the threat of disenfranchisement, let it be known that we will stand up, fight back and take action.

(Ray Buckley is the chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party and a former state representative.)