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Statement of Secretary of State Bill Gardner regarding the Impact of H.R. 1 on New Hampshire Elections
March 30, 2021 (3:00 p.m.) - Thirty-eight years ago in the month of October 1983, Nancy Pelosi came to the New Hampshire State House and the Secretary of State’s office on a mission to take the first-in-the-nation presidential primary away from the people of New Hampshire. That visit was exactly 200 years to the month after the people of New Hampshire approved their constitution on October 31, 1783.
Now, Speaker Pelosi is once again attacking our state by using federal authority through H.R. 1 by rendering articles of our own state constitution null and void.
The U.S. Constitution, was created by the individual states, with New Hampshire being the ninth and deciding state to put our federal constitution into effect. In contrast, our state constitution was created almost five years earlier by direct ballot vote of N.H. voters, and can only be amended by the same direct ballot vote. It is older than the U.S. Constitution, and it is truly the people of New Hampshire’s document. That is why our state constitution is so important.
Among the numerous freedoms our state constitution provides, the first and foremost is the right to free elections.
Our state constitution requires the total votes counted for each candidate, for each office on the ballot, be publicly declared by the moderator at each polling place the night of the election after the polls close. Not the next day, or week or more as the proposed H.R. 1 would dictate.
Our state constitution requires that a voter must be present to vote unless a voter is absent from the town or city, or physically disabled. This would also be taken away with HR 1. Contrary to our constitution, HR 1 would require no-excuse absentee voting, early voting with multiple election days, and continuing to receive and count ballots after the election.
There are many other examples of our voting tradition, both constitutionally and statutorily, being taken away from us. This egregious over-reach of federal authority that flagrantly ignores or diminishes the provisions of our state constitution is wrong. The simplicity of New Hampshire elections will be gone.
If we let Washington take away these and other articles in our constitution, they can do other damage to our state, and could put our presidential primary in a perilous position.
Thirty-eight years ago all four members of the New Hampshire congressional delegation, and state leaders in both parties, were united in their opposition, and defended New Hampshire from the Pelosi presidential primary punch.
Unfortunately, this time all four of the state’s congressional delegation are not supporting provisions of our New Hampshire Constitution. They should answer the question, why?
This act would place New Hampshire on par with California that already has most of the procedures in HR 1. Do you remember it took California weeks after the 2020 election to finish counting all the votes?
Speaker Pelosi wants to make New Hampshire and the rest of the country like her state of California.
New Hampshire has had the third highest voter turnout in the country for each of the last four presidential elections. Compared to our third-ranking in the country, California has ranked 46th, 49th 49th and 43rd for turnout in the last four presidential elections. You can review these statistics on our website homepage at https://sos.nh.gov/
New Hampshire has a solid track record for running sound and trouble free elections that do not warrant this type of federal meddling. What’s good for Speaker Pelosi in California is bad for us in New Hampshire, and our congressional delegation should know that.