Secretary of State Gardner Announced a Select Committee on 2020 Emergency Election Support
Click go to the Select Committee page at the Secretary of State Website.
The committee, announced April 27, 2020, is tasked to advise on use of federal CARES Act funds to:
“cover additional costs incurred at the local level for handling and processing absentee ballots over and above the number of those cast four years ago and protecting the health and safety of voters and poll workers.”
A greater number of absentee ballots is expected due to the COVID-19 public health advisories.
State law allows voters to use an absentee ballot if they “Cannot vote in-person by reason of disability.”
In a Memorandum issued April 10, 2020 by the Secretary of State and Attorney General stated:
Any voter who is unable to vote in person in the September 8, 2020 Primary Election or the November 3, 2020 General Election because of illness from COVID-19 or who fears that voting in person may expose himself/herself or others to COVID-19 will be deemed to come within the definition of “disability” for purposes of obtaining an absentee ballot.
Per minutes of the April 30, 2020 Select Committee Organizational Meeting, Chairman Cook stated:
“The existing election laws are in place, and that this committee does not have the power of the Legislature in that it cannot change the laws. If the committee identifies obstacles in current law that need to be overcome, the committee will need to explore recommending an executive order.
Individuals advocating for change of election systems, to the extent they want to make those suggestions, the committee is happy to refer them to the lawmakers on the committee, because that’s the role of the Legislature.
We have to make this work in our existing legal context, until and unless the law is changed, either by executive order to the extent it can be done, or by the Legislature.”
The Select Committee should focus on processing absentee ballots and making voting safe, like:
Public education on changes necessary in response to COVID-19 and the impact of HB 1264.
Promote voter registration before (instead of on) election day to limit lines and crowds,
Extended hours (or days) for Town Clerks for voter registration, absentee ballot requests, etc.
Larger (or more) voting venues so as to implement social distancing guidelines
PPE for staff and for individual voters, shields for check-in staff, markings on floors, etc.
Extended hours for voting and for counting absentee ballots.
The Select Committee should NOT be considering revisions to the current voting process, like:
Mailing ballots to all on the voter rolls, rather that to those who request ballots.
No ID required registration option available prior to election day.
Election law and election forms changes.
These items are on the Committee’s Decision Matrix, Topics for Consideration and Action Item list.
We know US House Democrats want to use the current crisis to loosen election laws in all States.
We don’t want the Select Committee to become involved in implementing any of their changes.
Some are already arguing that having to buy a stamp to mail in an absentee ballot is a poll tax.
The Select Committee should complete its assigned task without any revision to NH election law.
Committee proceedings, minutes, and notice of scheduled meetings are at the Committee wbsite.
Committee Members are Bradford E. Cook, Chairman, Representative Barbara J. Griffin, Katherine M. Hanna, Kathy L. Seaver, Senator Tom Sherman, Eugene Van Loan III
Other participants are David Scanlan, Deputy Secretary of State, Orville “Bud” Fitch, Legal Counsel, Secretary of State’s Office, Nicholas Chong Yen, Assistant Attorney General
We need to closely follow AND COMMENT ON the Committee proceedings and recommendations.
Member emails are: BCook@sheehan.com; Marx13@metrocast.net; Tom.Sherman@leg.state.nh.us; Barbara.Griffin@leg.state.nh.us; firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com
Copy participants at: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, contact Governor Sununu to urge him not to approve any changes to NH Election Law.
His email is: email@example.com
Posted by GST Chairman Ray Chadwick