A Republican-backed bill to add tougher scrutiny on voters who don’t have the right kind of paperwork to prove they live in the state sailed through the House of Representatives Thursday and is headed to Gov. Chris Sununu for a signature.
Stirring largely partisan debate from the beginning, SB3 sailed through the Senate and House Election Law along party line votes — with comfortable support from Republican majorities, and opposition from Democrats.
But as it reached the House, Republican supporters of the bill faced the task of convincing some of their more skeptical colleagues that – in this case – it was better to settle for incremental change than reject the bill because it doesn’t go far enough to crack down on voting standards.
"Contrary to the belief passage of this bill will water down or undermine future attempts to actually correct our flawed registration system is not only inaccurate, it’s also disingenuous," Rep. Steve Negron, of Nashua, said ahead of the vote. "We cannot boil the ocean, we have to be smart about what we are doing.”
In the end, the bill passed 191-162. Two House Democrats voted for the bill, while about a dozen Republicans and Libertarians sided with most of the Democrats in voting no.
Opponents of the bill were rallying until the very end, trying to make the case that the bill added unnecessary and intimidating steps to the state’s voting process.
Democrats held a series of phone banks the night before the vote. Outside groups flooded the state with digital campaigns against SB3 and a small army of protestors lined the hallways outside Representatives’ Hall, carrying signs urging officials to “protect voting rights for all.”
Shortly after the vote was final, Sununu affirmed his support for the measure and his intent to sign it into law.
"This legislation helps protect the integrity of New Hampshire’s electoral process," Sununu said, in a statement released by his office. "As host of the First in the Nation primary, New Hampshire has the obligation to ensure our system is beyond reproach. This bill does exactly that and as such, I support SB 3 and commend the House of Representatives for their actions today."