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.

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.

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.

Among the presidential candidates, environmental issues haven’t gotten much play this campaign season.

Here in New Hampshire, that’s not quite the case, especially in the gubernatorial race where issues like Northern Pass, solar and wind energy and high energy costs have helped shape the campaign.

One New Hampshire City, Two Immigration Stories

Oct 26, 2016

Pam Colantuono and Minata Toure have never met. But they have a few things in common.

They both live in Manchester. They’re both moms. And the biggest thing they share — the thing that shapes both their lives and how they see the world — is the classic American immigration story.


Complaints about skewed public polls are nothing new. Recent election cycles have included many such accusations from candidates – especially when they’re running behind. In 2012, many Republicans held onto the idea that the polls were skewed against Mitt Romney, right up until Barack Obama won reelection.

Wednesday is the deadline for candidates for state elected office to file campaign finance reports, detailing how much money they’ve raised and spent since the primary.

 

But these reports will give us only a glimpse of how the political dollars are flowing this year.

 

Following trends in recent elections, outside groups are expected to make a considerable investment to try and sway voters before they go to the polls less than three weeks from now.

 

New Hampshire is still considered a swing state, despite a trend toward Democrats in the last few presidential elections. But when you look further down the ballot, there are relatively few districts that can still be called battlegrounds—most are reliably red or blue. One of the last ones left is a long slice of the Seacoast—State Senate District 24. NHPR’s Natasha Haverty reports on how two candidates are working to tip the scales there.


National security has proven to be a pivotal issue in this year's Senate race between Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gov. Maggie Hassan.

Ayotte, a Republican, has cast herself as a strong advocate for the nation's security, pointing to her record in the Senate. Hassan, a Democrat, has taken some positions that put her at odds with her own party and President Obama.

Save the Children Action Network

    

Early-learning programs have always been a tough sell in New Hampshire. Child advocates and educators have tried for years to break lawmakers’ resistance to the idea, yet a proposal to put more 5-year-olds in all-day kindergarten can still roil Concord for months.

A Washington, D.C. political group with deep pockets, a team of lobbyists and a small army of volunteers wants to change that.

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