Opponents, Proponents Strive For Strong Turnout at SB3 Public Hearing

Apr 17, 2017

After clearing the Senate along party lines, a Republican-sponsored bill to add new requirements for voters registering within 30 days of an election is up for a public hearing in the House Tuesday morning.

So many people turned out to testify against SB3 last month that the public hearing before the Senate elections committee had to be moved at the last minute to Representatives’ Hall. This time around, Tuesday’s hearing before the House election law committee is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. in that same larger chamber from the outset.

While opponents far outnumbered supporters at the first hearing, both sides are trying to rally their respective troops to show up to the Statehouse tomorrow.

The New Hampshire Republican Party sent an email Monday afternoon urging people to show up and testify in support of the bill. The Granite State Taxpayers also posted an advisory on its website encouraging people to support the bill at Tuesday's hearing — the group, in its call to action, noted that it was one of only several voices testifying in favor of the bill last month. 

Meanwhile, a coalition of left-leaning groups have continued their efforts to push back against the legislation – organizing weekly phone banks, letter-writing campaigns and coordinating carpool trips to the Statehouse, with the goal of drumming up another large showing of opposition for the House hearing.

National voices have also started to weigh in: Priorities USA, a super PAC initially set up to support former President Barack Obama's re-election bid, launched a digital campaign targeting the senators backing SB3; while former Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander penned a recent column for the Nashua Telegraph opposing the legislation. 

One of the provisions that drew the most ire at SB3’s first public hearing last month was a proposal to allow police to visit the homes of voters who didn’t provide the right kind of ID at the polls.

In response to public criticism, including pushback from the state’s police chiefs, bill sponsor Sen. Regina Birdsell changed the legislation to allow election officials, not law enforcement, to perform those checks. Otherwise, much of the bill has remained unchanged since its last public hearing

The bill has the support of the Secretary of State's office and Republican leadership, including Gov. Chris Sununu.

Now that we've passed the halfway point of the legislative session, only about a quarter of the voting reforms proposed this session are still alive. Initially, lawmakers introduced dozens of bills proposing changes to the state’s voting procedures, election technology and oversight — but many have been rejected or retained in committee, effectively putting them on hold for the foreseeable future.