×

Sen. Bette Lasky: State can boost election security without sacrificing fairness



For the Monitor
Saturday, July 14, 2018

As the first-in-the-nation state, with the eyes of the world upon us, ensuring that New Hampshire’s elections are fair and secure could not be more important.

Yet for far too long, too many lawmakers and state officials have used unfounded claims of voter fraud as a poor excuse to keep Granite Staters from getting to exercise their fundamental civil right to vote. This has all been done in spite of the overwhelming evidence disputing rampant voter fraud. And with a recently released and comprehensive report from the Attorney General’s and Secretary of State’s offices, it has yet again been proven, more clearly than ever before, that there is no factual evidence supporting claims of widespread voter fraud in our state.

This study, confirmed what those of us who make our determinations based on facts, rather than the unsubstantiated whims of misleading politicians, have long known: Voter fraud is virtually nonexistent in New Hampshire.

Still, if lawmakers and election officials are so concerned about keeping our elections secure, you would expect them to gladly support measures toward ensuring the security of our elections, right?

Wrong.

I, along with some of my colleagues, have time and again proposed common-sense and practical legislation that would help ensure our election integrity. Misinformed politicians in Concord have worked against these common-sense efforts. From relying on inherently flawed systems to maintain accurate voter rolls to refusing to support efforts to secure the voter registration process, it’s clear that some New Hampshire lawmakers’ self-proclaimed commitment to election security is nothing more than a thinly veiled effort to prevent select groups of Granite Staters from having their voices heard at the polls. These laws too often want to complicate and confuse our voting process for the elderly, college students and the poor.

One measure that would streamline and secure our elections is electronic poll books. These devices would be used in municipal and statewide elections for voter registration and check-in, and would allow for state officials to seamlessly and securely maintain accurate voter rolls. They would also help make sure that only eligible voters are casting a ballot.

Electronic poll books are a common-sense solution that all lawmakers and election officials should support as an integral part of making New Hampshire’s elections secure and accessible. However, although legislation to implement a trial of these devices was passed into law a year ago, the very office responsible for making sure our elections run as smoothly as possible has presented the biggest obstacle to their implementation.

No vendors have vied to be a part of the trial program largely because the process put forward by the Secretary of State’s office is unnecessarily confusing, cumbersome and needlessly expensive. Local election officials across the state have said that electronic poll books would be a game-changer for making our elections as secure and accessible as possible for all eligible Granite State voters. Still, the secretary of state refuses to help move the process forward. Meanwhile, it took a Minnesota county with about the same number of voters as New Hampshire just six months to make electronic poll books a reality.

Unfortunately, this is not the only way decision makers are failing Granite Staters when it comes to ensuring election security.

For example, conservative lawmakers and the secretary of state insist on remaining in the Interstate Crosscheck System. This is a program that has been shown to wrongly identify voters who may have voted more than once 99 percent of the time. I sponsored a bill to move our state into joining the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), a system used by more than 20 states that increases not only the accuracy of the nation’s voter rolls, but also increases voter participation by reaching out to unregistered eligible voters with clear and simple information on how they may register to vote.

New Hampshire has a long and proud history of engagement in the democratic process. We must make sure that this tradition continues by running the best elections in the country. Elections that are as secure and fair as possible must be a priority for all lawmakers and election officials in the Granite State.

As the first-in-the-nation state and with election season upon us, now is the time to stop using bogus claims of voter fraud to disenfranchise Granite Staters and to start taking action to ensure that every one of our citizens gets to vote and that that vote is counted fairly and securely.

(Sen. Bette Lasky, a Nashua Democrat, represents District 13 in the New Hampshire Senate.)