League of Women Voters Opposes Obstacles to Voting

RELEASE: IMMEDIATE
CONTACT: Jane Armstrong, President
          League of Women Voters of New Hampshire
          (603) 225-5344 or president@lwvnh.org

Concord, NH—The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire is urging the New
Hampshire House Election Law Committee to reject Senate Bill 403 because it
creates unnecessary obstacles to citizens who want to register to vote on
Election Day. The Committee meets today, at 1:00 pm, in Room 308 of the
Legislative Office Building.

“Senate Bill 403 is part of a series of bills introduced in the House and
Senate this year that, if adopted, will create unnecessary obstacles to the
right to vote,” said Jane Armstrong, president of the NH League, in a letter
to the Committee. She said that although claims have been made that New
Hampshire has a problem with election fraud, the Attorney General’s Office
has testified on several occasions that the state does not have a history of
election fraud.

“The obstacles to voting created by Senate Bill 403 and other similar pieces
of legislation are not justified by the facts,” said Armstrong. “But these
bills are more than just unnecessary. These bills create a climate of
suspicion surrounding our elections by questioning the integrity of the
citizens of New Hampshire and by questioning the ability of local
governments to conduct honest elections.”

Armstrong urged the Election Law Committee to “carefully consider the
harmful effects of creating an unjustified climate of suspicion about New
Hampshire’s election system. As elected officials,” she said, “You have a
special duty to examine the issues carefully and base your decisions on
facts. Based on the facts, we urge the Election Law Committee to oppose
Senate Bill 403.”

The text of the letter from the League of Women Voters follows:

Election Law Committee
Legislative Office Building, Room 308
Concord, NH 03301

Dear Representatives:

Based on our study of the legislation and our observation of the Senate
Public and Municipal Affairs Committee, the League of Women Voters of New
Hampshire urges you to oppose Senate Bill 403: An Act relative to
verification of identity when a person registers or attempts to vote.

The League of Women Voters believes that voting is a fundamental citizen
right that must be guaranteed.

Congress allowed New Hampshire to choose election-day registration as an
alternative to the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. What this means is
that New Hampshire must allow eligible citizens 18 or over to register and
vote on Election Day. Current laws in New Hampshire provide reasonable
standards to determine if someone is eligible to vote without unnecessarily
endangering anyone’s rights.

Senate Bill 403 is part of a series of bills introduced in the House and the
Senate this year that, if adopted, will create unnecessary obstacles to the
right to vote. Claims have been made that these bills are designed to combat
voter fraud. The Attorney General’s Office has testified before both House
and Senate committees about investigations of suspected election fraud. The
results of the Attorney General’s investigations make it clear that New
Hampshire does not have a problem with election fraud.

This committee, members of the House and members of the Senate should take
pride in the fact that dozens of investigations have shown allegations of
widespread fraud in New Hampshire elections are without basis in fact.

The obstacles to voting created by Senate Bill 403 and other similar pieces
of legislation are not justified by the facts. But these bills are more
than just unnecessary. These bills create a climate of suspicion
surrounding our elections by questioning the fundamental integrity of the
citizens of New Hampshire and by questioning the ability of our local
governments to conduct honest elections.

Since its founding 86 years ago, the League of Women Voters has encouraged
citizens to take an active role in government, starting with voting. If New
Hampshire had a problem with voter fraud, the League of Women Voters would
be the first to call for reform. By the same token, we cannot let legitimate
election systems be undermined by unfounded accusations of fraud.

This is even more important when those accusations result in unnecessary
obstacles to registration and voting, especially for certain groups of
citizens. Senate Bill 403 goes even further by calling for felony
investigations of citizens who don’t have certain government issued photo
identifications -- a provision that will be intimidating to many citizens.

The League of Women Voters urges the Election Law Committee to carefully
consider the harmful effects of creating an unjustified climate of suspicion
about New Hampshire’s election system. As elected officials you have a
special duty to examine the issues carefully and base your decisions on
facts. Based on the facts, we urge the Election Law Committee to oppose
Senate Bill 403.

The attached letter to the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee
includes further details about the League’s opposition to Senate Bill 403.

Sincerely yours,


Jane Armstrong, President
League of Women Voters of New Hampshire
4 Park Street, Suite 200
Concord, NH 03301

cc: Governor John Lynch