By Andrew Hemingway, chairman, Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire
The people of New Hampshire have Republicans to thank for securing their right to vote and every other liberty that comes with that right.
If it wasn’t for SB 129, which passed the House by a wide margin on Wednesday, we would continue to have no way to verify a person could legitimately vote in New Hampshire.
Under current law, we are giving people the chance to vote when they shouldn’t, and that threatens the very core of our Constitutional Republic. Without verifiably fair elections, how can we know if our elected representatives, senators and governor are using legitimate authority to make and enforce the laws we must abide by? Without a guarantee that our elections are fair, this authority can be legitimately questioned. If we really care about our liberty and our security, we don’t want such ambiguity in our election process.
Government, as Founder Thomas Paine said, is a “necessary evil” because it can provide the structure to protect the rights of all citizens equally under the law. As our Founders understood it and as those of us intent on restoring our Constitutional Republic understand it, there are just uses of government, and protecting the constitutional right to vote is absolutely one of them. The best way for a government to protect everyone’s right to vote is to provide an orderly process that ensures that only people who have that right are actually voting.
The bill just passed by the Legislature, which is now headed to the governor’s desk, requires voters to present photo identification to verify who they are and where they live. The requirement gives government the authority it needs to keep order in the election process. It protects everyone’s right to vote by ensuring that people who don’t have that right aren’t illegally taking it. This simple fix will give New Hampshire voters the confidence they need to know their vote truly counts. As a result, New Hampshire elections will truly reflect the will of New Hampshire voters, and not out-of-state interests.
No longer will non-residents be able to show up on Election Day, sign an affidavit that they live in New Hampshire, vote for their special interest, and then disappear into unaccountable limbo. No longer will letters attempting to verify these folks’ New Hampshire residences go undelivered. No longer will temporary visitors with no vested interest in the state be able to determine its future. Voters in New Hampshire will now be verifiable, vested New Hampshire citizens—period.
It’s amazing to hear detractors argue that this common sense solution to voter fraud is unconstitutional. In the first line of the relevant section, the constitution reads, “All elections are to be free, and every inhabitant of the state of 18 years of age and upwards shall have an equal right to vote in any election.” This bill achieves that.
Just to be sure opponents don’t bring up the cost of an ID—either saying it’s too hard for some citizens to get one or that an ID constitutes a poll tax—you should know that the bill allows people to obtain an ID for free. Also, if someone without a driver’s license can’t take the time to get a voter ID free of charge sometime before the next election, should they even be voting? I can’t imagine any person in this state having no friend, no family member or no volunteer to turn to for a ride to get an ID. They make it to the polls, right?
Voting in America is a civic duty. In New Hampshire, it goes beyond that; it’s a part of life. Thanks to the Republicans we elected in November, the New Hampshire political lifestyle will require voters who actually live here.