The Bulletin Board

Sununu signs election-related bills into law

By: - July 28, 2021 12:09 pm
A woman walks outside toward a polling place

House Bill 223 authorizes political parties to subscribe to a list of absentee ballot requests. (Getty Images)

Gov. Chris Sununu signed a handful of Republican-sponsored election bills into law late last week.

That includes House Bill 77, a measure requiring town and city clerks to provide daily notifications to the Secretary of State’s Office of any filings for elected office. Rep. Ralph Boehm, a Litchfield Republican, was the prime sponsor.

House Bill 223, which was also signed into law, authorizes political parties to subscribe to a list of absentee ballot requests, which will be provided by the secretary of state. Sponsors of the bill include Rep. Joe Sweeney, a Salem Republican, and Rep. Joe Alexander, a Goffstown Republican. Previously, candidates who were running for statewide office could request the list. The bill also adds the date the absentee ballot was returned to the information that will be provided by the secretary of state.

The bill comes after a year that saw atypically high use of absentee ballots due to the pandemic. Republicans have voiced concern about voter fraud connected to absentee ballots, but no evidence of widespread voter fraud has been found.

House Bill 285 modifies how voter checklists are verified. Current law requires the secretary of state to submit a list of every city or town that has a registered voter matching a given death record. The new law adds the requirement that the secretary of state provide information to municipalities where the name on the death certificate is a partial match to their voter checklist. When registering a vehicle with a new address, individuals have to inform the Division of Motor Vehicles. The new law will require the division, in turn, to notify the supervisors of the checklist of both the new and previous address about the change. The law also adds a verification process for voters with the same place and date of birth, or a “substantially similar name,” including nicknames or “likely maiden/married name changes,” to make sure they are “unique voters.” If the records show an individual voting more than once in a given election, “such information shall be forwarded to the attorney general for further investigation or prosecution.” The bill’s prime sponsor was Rep. Erica Layon, a Derry Republican. 

House Bill 476, whose prime sponsor was Rep. Betty Gay, a Salem Republican, loosens the requirement that election officials live in the same voting district as the additional polling place where they are working. Instead, it requires election officials to live in the same town they are serving. For cities, the law requires election officials to live in the same city ward where they are working. 

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.