By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
GOP activist Karen Testerman said the New Hampshire Republican Party adopted her resolution in January that would block 320,000 undeclared voters from voting in Republican primary elections.
Testerman of Franklin is the chairman of the Merrimack County Republican Committee and ran unsuccessfully against Gov. Chris Sununu in the last two primaries.
Testerman said the resolution has been turned over to Secretary of State David Scanlan, who is insisting the party also send him a letter regarding the resolution.
Scanlan couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Testerman compared the Republican party to a family and said when family decisions need to be made, you don’t ask the neighbors to have a say.
Testerman said the next primary will decide who the party wants to represent them in the presidential election.
“Why do we want somebody from outside making that decision,” Testerman said.
Testerman said state law requires a letter of permission from political parties to the Secretary of State to allow undeclared voters to vote in their primaries and the GOP has provided no such letter to Scanlan.
Undeclared voters in New Hampshire include 40 percent of the registered voters – the largest block – with Democrats and Republicans split at about 30 percent each.
Testerman, whose husband is Rep. David Testerman, R-Franklin, said she heard Democrats were encouraging undeclared voters to register as Republicans so they could vote against former President Donald Trump in the primary.
The grass-roots group Citizens for Belknap raised alarm about the resolution in a press release Wednesday night.
It said the GOP was invoking an arcane rule giving parties the ability to tell the state who can vote in their party’s primary.
“Earlier this year, House Bill 101 proposed requiring voters to register with a party four months before a primary election, but it was killed in committee. In an attempt to bypass the legislature, the new resolution found a loophole in New Hampshire’s statute (659:14), which appears to permit a party to close its primary without legislation,” the release said.
Presently, undeclared voters may choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot to vote in a primary. Doing so registers the voter with that party unless the voter later changes their affiliation back to undeclared.
Scanlan recently issued a news release saying as of the 2022 midterms, there were 276,507 registered Democrats, 282,356 registered Republicans and 320,057 undeclared voters.
“If the resolution document is accurate, independent voters in Belknap County and around the state will be outraged by this effort to deny New Hampshire citizens a cherished right which they have held for decades,” said Al Posnack, co-chair of Citizens for Belknap.
Posnack added, “We will do everything we can to ensure that these voters do not lose their voices in 2024.”
Testerman said about 3,500 Democrats have changed affiliation to undeclared. And 408 have switched from Democrat to Republican.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen at this point,” Testerman said. “The ball is in the court of the Secretary of State.”