State Sen. Regina Birdsell has filed legislation that would amend the New Hampshire Constitution to ensure that only citizens of the United States and citizens of New Hampshire can vote in our state’s elections. This legislation, referred to as Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution (CACR) 36, would simply replace the present language in the New Hampshire Constitution that says state “inhabitants” can vote in our elections. Instead, it would read:
“All elections are to be free, and every person who is a citizen of the United States and a citizen of the state of New Hampshire, and 18 years of age and upwards shall have an equal right to vote in any election. Every person shall be considered a citizen of the state of New Hampshire for the purposes of voting in a town, ward, or unincorporated place where that person is domiciled and has primary residency.” CACR 36
Nine senators and state Rep. Bob Lynn, a former New Hampshire Supreme Court Chief Justice, have joined Sen. Birdsell as co-sponsors of this constitutional amendment.
The existence of this legislation is really surprising in two ways. The first surprise is that it is necessary at all. Why would other than our fellow citizens be voting in our elections? The other shocker is that any legislator would oppose a law reserving this core act of citizenship to only citizens.
On that last point, just wait. When you hear the usual cacophony claiming racism, misogyny, and voter suppression, look for the accusers. Those who will oppose CACR 36 will be revealing themselves. For them, winning elections is more important than honest elections, so any old insults will suffice to preserve the status quo.
As to the necessity of CACR 36, state judges have so consistently and thoroughly misinterpreted the state constitution that in recent years, people claiming single day residency – people who are here for only election day and register that day claiming they have no plans to leave – come in, vote, and leave New Hampshire over the course of not much more than a few hours. Progressive judges have given legitimacy to this chicanery by ruling explicitly that “you don’t have to be a resident of New Hampshire to vote in New Hampshire’s elections.”
The CACR 36 sponsoring legislators see all this and recognize that our right to self-governance has been diluted over the years by the “election day tourists” who come here from neighboring states suffering under virtual one-party rule and are allowed to be one-day New Hampshire inhabitants. Those faithless voters gloat that their votes in their home states are redundant, but here in New Hampshire they can “make a difference.” And too often, they do.
We all know of elections that have been decided on slim margins. In history, we might remember 1974 and the two-vote victory of Republican Louis Wyman over Democrat John Durkin that was eventually taken from him by a Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate. More recently, in 1990 Democrat Robert Murphy defeated Republican Kathleen Souza by four votes for a state Senate seat, and in 2018 Lisa Beaudoin won her state House seat over Gail Ober by two votes out of 21,440 cast.
Less dramatically, but perhaps more decisively, we might recall the 2016 presidential election 2,736 vote margin in New Hampshire. Many of us working hard on that election certainly saw evidence of many more than that number of out-of-state voters coming to New Hampshire to deny Donald Trump his rightful victory. Our suspicions were borne out later by the secretary of state’s report that on that election day in 2016, over twice that margin of loss by President Trump, that is 6,540 people, used an out-of-state license to register to vote in New Hampshire.
We can gripe and we can commiserate with each other about the current lack of voting integrity that has residents of Massachusetts, Vermont, and elsewhere across the country coming to New Hampshire to dictate who shall be our elected officials and primary winners, Or, instead, we can do something about it. Supporting CACR 36 is doing something about it.
We need everyone helping us to get this constitutional amendment out of the legislature and before the voters. On Monday, January 31, CACR 36 is being heard in the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs Committee. The hearing is being held at the State House (not the Legislative Office Building) at 1:00 p.m.
You can be part of the solution by attending the Senate hearing and testifying if you can. Just signing in to support the CACR would be doing something about it. You also can contribute by contacting your local legislators and letting them know that you don’t expect or appreciate having your New Hampshire vote diluted by these election day visitors.
If we are silent now about the best solution to non-citizen voters to come along in years, we should not later complain about the problem of their diluting our votes