Another View -- Regina Birdsell: Voter residency requirements strengthen NH elections
New Hampshire has the distinct honor of hosting the first-in-the-nation presidential primary every four years and is considered a swing-vote state, with four highly coveted and tightly contested Electoral College votes and a deep purple voting history.
Our voters pride themselves as independent voices who maintain objectivity between political parties when they enter the voting booth and as a result, we see high voter-turnout. We value our position in our nation’s politics and realize the importance of each vote cast by a New Hampshire resident.
The excitement generated by our elections in New Hampshire, and the first-in-the-nation primary in particular, draw people who want to participate. As a result, we’ve seen instances of ‘drive-by-voter’ fraud when individuals who are not domiciled residents, and who have no intent to live or reside in our state for any length of time cast a vote in the town of their choosing. These voters are committing fraud because they believe that their votes truly matter in New Hampshire, and frankly, there are few measures in our law to prevent this practice.
For this reason, the Senate passed a bill that would establish a 30-day voter residency requirement to be eligible to vote in a New Hampshire election.
This legislation serves to guarantee the integrity of elections, allowing New Hampshire residents to be the ones affecting change in the communities they are invested in. If we value the integrity of our voting system in New Hampshire, we need to ensure that there are measures in place guaranteeing that the person in the booth next to you is a committed resident of the state and an invested member of the community he or she resides in.
This legislation was drafted with the support of Secretary of State William Gardner who believes it would not hinder or dissuade voters, but rather, serve to protect the integrity of our state’s elections. In addition, a WMUR Granite State Poll, released in July 2015, 57 percent of all New Hampshire voters supported a 30-day voter residency requirement across party lines, and only 28 percent opposed this measure.
While we invite members of the media, the campaigns, and interested residents of other states to come and participate by viewing, sign-waving, and engaging in most of the activities that surround our elections, voting must be limited to people who actually live here. I hope the Legislature will support this bill because it is a reasonable common-sense step that will protect the integrity of New Hampshire elections.
Sen. Regina Birdsell of Hampstead chairs the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee.
Drive-by voting: Saving NH elections for NH voters
With the first-in-the- nation primary just two weeks away, political tourists from across the country are flocking to New Hampshire to witness our peculiar election tradition firsthand.
Some are even taking part, asking questions at campaign events, or even knocking on doors in support of their favorite candidate. We’re happy to have them. We just don’t think that out-of-state visitors should be able to vote in New Hampshire.
Democrats at the State House disagree, and are promising to stop a commonsense bill that would require voters to live in New Hampshire for 30 days before being allowed to vote here.
In today’s paper, Sen. Regina Birdsell supports the 30-day residency restriction, similar to those in most states and backed by Secretary of State Bill Gardner.
Sens. Bette Lasky and David Pierce argue that even a brief 30-day delay for new residents amounts to voter suppression.
Every adult American citizen has a right to vote. Convicted felons can forfeit that right. And we can only vote where we actually live.
Pierce and Lasky would leave that determination in the mind of each voter, and it could change seconds before and seconds after that voter shows up at a polling place.
Like voter ID laws, 30-day residency requirements protect voters’ rights from dilution by those who should not be voting here. We should not open our voting booths to people just driving by.