Governor-Elect Sununu Says He Wants to End Same-Day Voter Registration

Nov 18, 2016

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Governor-elect Republican Chris Sununu says he wants to repeal same-day voter registration in New Hampshire.

“Most states don’t have it. There’s a reason. It can cause problems,” Sununu said, speaking to NHPR’s Morning Edition.

Sununu says he would support legislation to end the practice, which has been allowed in the state for more than two decades.

“We just need our laws tighter. It’s not about fraud and a rigged system, that nonsense. It’s really just about making sure that our rules are clear, that they’re unambiguous, and that people can believe that as a full-time resident of the state of New Hampshire, your vote isn’t being watered down by someone who’s drive-thru voting, drive-by voting. We just need to modernize the system.”

New Hampshire is one of 13 states, along with the District of Columbia, where voters can register at the polls on the day of an election.

New Hampshire enacted same-day voter registration in 1994, under the leadership of Republican Gov. Steve Merrill.  Secretary of State Bill Gardner says it was an alternative to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, allowing voters to register at motor vehicle departments. 

Sununu said he doesn’t believe there’s voter fraud going on, but that the laws in place are too loose.

“I’m not saying that people are doing things illegally, but the system allows for so much flexibility and gray area in terms of who’s a resident and who’s not, how long have you been here, same-day voter, what are the checks and balances. It’s just about getting that into place.”

Voters who register in New Hampshire, whether it's at the polls or prior to an election, "will be required to fill out a standard registration form, and you will be asked to show proof of identity, age, citizenship, and domicile," according to the Secretary of State's office.

There is no minimum period of time someone must live in the state before being allowed to register.

Efforts to pass a 30-day residency requirement have failed, most recently in 2015 when Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a bill that made it through the Republican-controlled House and Senate.

Sununu has expressed support for such a requirement.

"In a bipartisan way, there are Republicans and Democrats that believe that a residency requirement would make good sense for the state of New Hampshire," Sununu during the campaign."