Commentary: Voting rights legislation will put power back in the hands of the people

October 4, 2021 5:50 am
A man stands at a voting booth

Everyone benefits when voting is made as simple as possible. (Hill Street Studios | Getty Images)

Last fall, I had the privilege of witnessing our democracy in action when I served as a local election official in my hometown of Bedford.

In the days and weeks leading up to the November 2020 election, local election officials in communities all across New Hampshire got to work. Volunteers from all walks of life adjusted and prepared for the new COVID protocols to swiftly process absentee ballots while helping keep those voting in-person safe. Thanks to the professionalism and dedication of town officials, we ensured all voters had a seamless experience no matter how they cast their ballots, even as we saw record-breaking turnout.

Despite the efforts of those of us on the ground, some in Concord and in Washington continue to spread the Big Lie of rampant voter fraud, and use it to justify efforts to roll back our freedom to vote so they can hold onto power by picking who does and doesn’t get to vote. Across the country, 18 states have already passed voter suppression legislation in 2021, and New Hampshire is poised to be next.

I share Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s pride in our state’s elections and, like many Granite Staters, believe in our ability to successfully run accessible, fair, and secure elections. However, with these seemingly endless attacks on our democracy, it is clear we must have nationwide standards in place to clean up our elections, ensure equal access to the ballot box, and modernize our election infrastructure so we can better maintain integrity.

Dark money, partisan gerrymandering, and voter fraud lies are putting our democracy at risk and enabling bad-faith actors to undermine our most important right: your vote, your voice. As a volunteer local election official, I supported the For the People Act, I continue to support the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, and I now support the Freedom to Vote Act because all of these bills will put our democracy back where it belongs — in the hands of the people.

These critical pieces of legislation will expand options for absentee and early in-person voting to make participation more accessible for all of us, while modernizing election infrastructure and establishing clearer processes for local officials. It will provide much-needed federal funds directly to our towns and cities to help improve technology and streamline election systems.

The Freedom to Vote Act will also implement stronger campaign finance checks and balances, holding candidates accountable and making sure that our government is chosen by the voters and not billionaires, large corporations, or D.C. lobbying firms.

Equally as important, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act restores key provisions of the Voting Rights Act that keep voting laws free from discrimination and ensure all eligible citizens — regardless of income, color, background, age, or area code — have equal access to the ballot box.

It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are: Everyone benefits when voting is made as simple as possible, votes are counted accurately and efficiently, and any issues are investigated transparently and without partisan interference. With 2022 just around the corner, I thank Sens. Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen, Congresswoman Annie Kuster, and Congressman Chris Pappas for their support of our democracy and urge them to help get these bills to President Joe Biden’s desk as quickly as possible.

To fellow Granite Staters who care about our democracy, it’s time to get involved — speak up about these important bills, engage with your community, and consider volunteering at the polls on Election Day. Great things happen when our elections are guaranteed to be fair and free for all.

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