News & Issues

How To Kill A Bill. Let Me Count The Ways.

Feb 6, 2021 | Voting Rights

SB 79 to authorize the moderator to verify the machine count is being held in committee awaiting the outcome of other legislation.

Efforts to restore the authority of the moderator to verify the vote count has a long history since 2016 when the Secretary of State declared that the moderator does not have that authority. Each bill has died without addressing the NH Constitutional requirement of a public count with moderator certification.

2017 SB 109 was reported out of Senate Election Law committee as Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) by a 3 to 2 vote. It died on the Senate floor on a voice vote. No senator called for a roll call. It died anonymously.

2018 HB 1582. The House Election Law committee deemed it unnecessary and Inexpedient to Legislate. The recorded floor vote was 195-139 in favor of ITL. At least the legislators had to take a stand.

2019-20 HB 554 was retained in committee, then recommended for Interim Study on a unanimous committee vote. When it came up again it was in the middle of the 2020 pandemic and the House Election Law Committee declared it not warranting future legislation. It died in committee.

2019-20 SB 229 was heard in the Senate Election Law committee and re-referred to a subcommittee which recommended it be amended to create a Study Committee. The full senate concurred on a voice vote. The bill was sent over to the House Election Law Committee in 2020. The House public hearing was cancelled due to Covid 19. The bill died without any further action at the end of 2020 session.

2021 SB 79 The Senate Committee voted unanimously to re-refer (hold) the bill in the committee for later consideration after the fate of similar bills was determined. Of course, the “similar” bills call for a statewide post election audit by the Secretary of State. Neither of the similar bills addressed the Constitutional requirement of a public count certified by the moderator.

And so we tread a long and circuitous path with many pitfalls along the way. Lasting change only comes with perseverance. So we fight on.