State of Democracy

NHPR's reporting initiative focused on the impact of politics and public policy on the residents of New Hampshire and beyond. Learn more here.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

New Hampshire's Executive Branch Ethics Committee had a rare moment in the spotlight recently, after it weighed in on a complaint involving Gov. Chris Sununu’s use of his official Twitter account.

If you haven’t heard much about this committee, you’re not alone. While it launched with some degree of fanfare, hailed as a tool to bring more accountability to Concord, the committee has spent much of the last decade maintaining a remarkably low profile.

Last fall, University of New Hampshire student Rachel Berg was one of the more than 3,000 people in Durham who registered to vote on Election Day. And she came prepared.

“I had to bring a few forms of ID, I don’t remember exactly what,” Berg recalled while sitting in a corner of the UNH student center last week. “License, I think. School ID. And maybe my passport, just to be safe.”

SB3 & Voting Laws: Facts, Fear, and Fiction

Apr 13, 2017
Allegra Boverman

A voting requirements bill now in the N.H. House has drawn huge attention this year and continues to generate questions about domicile, voter fraud, and access at the polls. Supporters say even the perception of cheating at the ballot box is unacceptable, while critics call SB3 a "voter suppression" bill.

How many retirees represent Merrimack County in the Legislature? What percentage of state reps are under the age of 35? And how does the State House's male/female ratio vary by political party?

The makeup of the New Hampshire House of Representatives has a major impact on daily life in the state. After all, these are the people who make the laws that govern us.

The full New Hampshire House is set to vote on the Finance Committee’s state budget proposal Wednesday. The spending plan has some slightly different priorities than what Gov. Chris Sununu laid out in his version back in February.

A few of the biggest policy and funding changes between the two versions are laid out in the graphic below ranging from public education to local aid for cities and towns.

The House has until Thursday to pass the budget before the Senate then begins crafting its version of the state’s next two year plan.

A final budget is due June 30th. 

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

There’s plenty of debate in New Hampshire right now around the question of who should be allowed to vote here. A big part of that lies in figuring out when — and why — a person calls New Hampshire their home. Answering that question, however, isn’t always straightforward.

Logan Shannon / NHPR

Secretary of State Bill Gardner says he would not support legislation if he believed it would hurt voter turnout. And as he sees it, a new bill that would impose new requirements on voters who register within 30 days of an election does not run the risk of doing that.

Elaine Grant / NHPR

Republican lawmakers have proposed dozens of individual bills to tighten up New Hampshire election laws this year, but one new proposal coming forward this week would on its own enact a number of changes in what’s required for voters to register and how officials are expected to verify those credentials.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

Michael Treadwell sat at the back of a courtroom.  In a windbreaker and khaki pants, he leaned over his work boots, elbows on his knees. At first, I thought he was chewing gum – a bold choice in a courtroom.  When we began to talk, I discovered it wasn't gum Michael was chewing.  It was his own gums. Michael doesn't have any teeth.

With Republicans in full control of New Hampshire’s State House for the first time in more than a decade, Republicans have been moving quickly to enact policies that have long been on their wish list.

That’s been particularly true in public education.

Jack Rodolico for NHPR

A bill in the state Senate would tighten eligibility for SNAP benefits, commonly called food stamps. That bill was written, in part, by a conservative, Florida-based think tank that’s pushed similar measures around the country. 

Logan Shannon / NHPR

While President Trump and some of his allies perpetuate the (unverified and unsubstantiated) idea that out-of-state voters are being sent across the border en masse to throw New Hampshire elections, we were wondering: What can we actually know about the people who are showing up to register for the first time on Election Day?

Hannah McCarthy for NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu delivered his budget address Thursday, outlining his priorities as the state Legislature kicks off its biannual budget writing cycle.

NHPR's newsroom has been reporting on what to expect this budget season — you can find a rundown on that right here — and now, we're offering more context on the things Sununu mentioned in the budget address itself.

NHPR Staff

Governor Chris Sununu delivers his budget proposal to lawmakers this week. It’s the first step in a months-long journey to build a two-year spending plan that will affect nearly every aspect of life in New Hampshire.

To help you prepare for the months of headlines to come, NHPR reporters are highlighting areas of the budget that are likely to generate the most discussion.

NHPR/Hannah McCarthy

A proposal to establish a paid family and medical leave insurance program had its first hearing Wednesday at the State House. The idea has been in the works for a while, but some advocates think New Hampshire is finally primed for the idea.

Emily Corwin / NHPR

New Hampshire Lawmakers filed into the State House cafeteria Thursday for some free international food. Like it or not, their meal came with a side of conversation -- about how immigrants benefit New Hampshire.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

Following promises made during the campaign, Republicans are taking steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act. What will replace the health care law, and which provisions will be spared, is still very much a question in Washington. In New Hampshire, that’s causing unease for many in the substance abuse treatment community.

Current Population Survey, © 2016 by Barry T. Hirsch and David A. Macpherson

New Hampshire lawmakers are again debating Right-to-Work laws, with bills currently moving through both the House and Senate. With Republican majorities in both chambers, and a newly-elected governor who favors Right-to-Work, the policy stands its best chance of passing in more than a decade.

But Right-to-Work isn’t exactly a kitchen-table kind of issue. If you aren’t in a union, or a large business owner, you may not know much about its history, what Right-to-Work does, or why it matters.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

New Hampshire’s governor doesn’t have a whole lot of executive power, at least compared to peers in other states. But one of the few ways a governor can exert his or her influence is through nominations to fill open seats across state agencies.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

From changes in voting registration to changes to party primaries or the Electoral College, New Hampshire lawmakers are preparing a slew of bills aimed at reforming the state’s elections.

In all, at least 40 bills aimed at tinkering with the state’s election laws are in the works for 2017.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

It’s not unusual for local officials across New Hampshire to be asked to turn over emails or other records under the state’s right-to-know law. In Manchester, City Clerk Matt Normand estimates his office receives about 100 such requests each year.

It is unusual, however, for a city to be on the receiving end of a public records request from the state itself.

Heading into November, New Hampshire Democrats talked a big game when it came to their hopes for retaking control of the state Senate.

But when the Republicans ended up maintaining the same 14-10 margin they’ve held for the past two years, Democrats placed at least part of the blame for their losses on gerrymandered district lines.

As it turns out, they might have a point.

A New Rep Learns The Ropes On State House Orientation Day

Nov 30, 2016
Hannah McCarthy/NHPR

The New Hampshire House has 400 members. But few of them are under 30. Donovan Fenton is among the young newcomers. He's 27 years-old, and will soon represent his hometown of Keene.

Casey McDermott, NHPR

When New Hampshire voters walk into the polls Tuesday, they’ll be greeted by a process that has remained largely unchanged for decades: paper ballots, filled out by hand, with voter rolls monitored by pencil-wielding clerks. And the way the state’s top election official sees it, there’s little reason to mess with a good thing.

Natasha Haverty/NHPR

This Tuesday, millions of people across the country will head to the polls to cast their votes and help decide who should hold our nation’s highest offices. But there will also be millions of people who won't go to the polls. In fact, four out of 10 adults in the U.S. do not vote. 

And they have their reasons, too. We went to one Manchester neighborhood where voter turnout is particularly low to learn more.

The race for control of the New Hampshire Senate is playing out across the state’s 24 Senate districts.

But, thanks in part to years of partisan gerrymandering, the majority of those districts are not terribly competitive, with either Democrats or Republicans all but guaranteed a victory.

There are a few towns and cities across New Hampshire that -- time and again -- almost perfectly mirror how the state votes as a whole. Political junkies call a town like this a "bellwether." 

One of the state's most tried and true bellwether communities is the city of Rochester. 

NHPR

As a first-term Democrat, serving in a Republican-led Congress in an era of intense partisan gridlock, Ann Kuster probably wasn’t going to accomplish a lot after being elected in 2012.

 

And in the four years since, Kuster has had an unremarkable run in Washington, by at least one measure: Of the 29 bills she’s introduced, just one - to rename an air traffic control tower in Nashua – was signed into law.

 

Then again, House Democrats on the whole haven’t had many legislative achievements since Republicans took over Congress in 2010. But according to Kuster, there’s more to her record over the last four years than meets the eye.

 On Tuesday, New Hampshire voters will head to the polls to cast votes in national and statewide races.

Thanks to NHPR's New Hampshire Elections Database, we're able to take a look at town-level election results up and down the ballot dating all the way back to 1972.

So, how has your New Hampshire town voted in recent gubernatorial and presidential elections? How about U.S. Senate Races? Explore our interactive maps to find out.

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