NH1 Newsmakers: A top state House Republican predicts bill to tighten NH voter laws will pass chamber
CONCORD – It’s one of the biggest questions at the Statehouse.
Will the much argued about GOP backed bill to tighten New Hampshire’s voting laws be able to pass through the state House of Representatives?
House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, the number two Republican in the chamber, told NH1 News that measure “will clearly go through the House.”
But the top Democrat in the House, Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff, countered that “many Republicans” in the chamber may join his party in opposing the bill.
The two leaders made their predictions on the latest edition of NH1 Newsmakers.
The bill passed through the state Senate on Thursday along party lines, with all 14 Republicans supporting the measure and the 9 Democrats in the Senate opposed. It now heads to the House, where Hinch said “I think it will come up very quickly.”
The measure, officially known as SB3, mandates that anyone who registers to vote either prior to or on Election Day itself, thanks to the state's same-day registration law, present definitive proof that they reside in the Granite State.
People who fail to provide such identification could still vote, but would be required to read and sign a form, and then provide proof of residency to city and town clerks within 10 days of voting, or 30 days for towns where offices are only open once a week.
That’s a quicker time period requirement than current election law dictates. If those documents aren’t provided the deadline, provisions in the bill allow town clerks or other local officials to pay a home visit to obtain a voter’s proof of residency. Another provision that would have allowed police to knock on new voter’s doors to verify their addresses elicited a lot of push back and was removed from the bill during the committee process.
With Republican Gov. Chris Sununu supportive of the bill, the spotlight now shifts to the House, where Hinch feels passage is a sure thing.
“I think that it will clearly go through the House, at least on the Republican side, because we like it,” he said.
While he says some House conservatives may not like the bill because they don’t think it goes far enough, Hinch pointed out that “voter integrity is a mainstay of the Republican caucus.”
“I think at the end of the day once and for all, putting voter integrity in front of the voters of the state of New Hampshire is important for the Republican caucus,” Hinch added.
But Shurtleff countered that “the intent may have been for reasons of integrity, but I think this voting bill, SB3, is just going to add so much confusion, and again it’s just a solution looking for a problem.”
And he predicted that “I think there are a lot of groups that would be opposed to this. Those that advocate for voting rights. I think that we have many Republicans in the House that could see it the way that we do.”
Some conservatives have long pushed for tightening up New Hampshire’s voting laws, accusing Democrats of gaming the system by taking advantage of the Granite State’s same day registration law. But the issue of voter fraud grabbed nation attention in recent months when President Donald Trump claimed without offering proof that thousands of people bused in from Massachusetts voted illegally in the Granite State in last year’s election.