Less than 48 hours after NHJournal first reported on his opposition to the election law bill passed by congressional Democrats, Secretary of State Bill Gardner issued a scathing statement condemning the legislation as a danger to New Hampshire’s electoral system.

“Our voting tradition, both constitutionally and statutorily, [is] being taken away from us,” Gardner said in the statement, posted at the secretary of state’s website. “This egregious over-reach of federal authority that flagrantly ignores or diminishes the provisions of our state constitution is wrong. The simplicity of New Hampshire elections will be gone.”

As NHJournal reported, Gardner opposes H.R.1, also known as the For The People Act, which is supported by all four of his fellow Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation. Reps. Annie Kuster and Chris Pappas voted for the House version in both 2019 and earlier this month. Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen are co-sponsors of the legislation.

Among Gardner’s concerns is the threat he says this federal approach to elections could pose to New Hampshire’s First In The Nation primary. “If Congress can tell us how to vote, and that we have to let people vote early and vote late, why can’t they tell us when we can have our primary?” Gardner told NHJournal. “If they can go against our constitution, they can override our First In The Nation law.”

He referenced those concerns in his statement as well.

“If we let Washington take away these and other articles in our constitution, they can do other damage to our state, and could put our presidential primary in a perilous position,” Gardner said.

Most of Gardner’s fellow Granite State Democrats support H.R. 1 and the override of local control of elections.

“The #ForThePeopleAct gets big money out of politics and makes it easier to vote. Of course, Bill Gardner and his NHGOP enablers oppose it,” tweeted Democratic state Rep. David Meuse. 

Gardner called out Democrats for supporting what he described as an attack on New Hampshire’s elections from Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“Unfortunately, this time all four of the state’s congressional delegation are not supporting provisions of our New Hampshire Constitution. They should answer the question, why?

“This act would place New Hampshire on par with California that already has most of the procedures in HR 1. Do you remember it took California weeks after the 2020 election to finish counting all the votes?”

Gardner went on to reiterate what he told NHJournal about turnout in New Hampshire vs. California.

“New Hampshire has had the third-highest voter turnout in the country for each of the last four presidential elections. Compared to our third-ranking in the country, California has ranked 46th, 49th 49th, and 43rd for turnout in the last four presidential elections.”

“Speaker Pelosi wants to make New Hampshire and the rest of the country like her state of California,” Gardner added.