Voter Registration, Voting Requirements Would Be Upended by Bill Passed in House

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Rep. Mike Belcher, R-Wakefield, speaks in favor of House Bill 1156 Thursday on the House floor. The bill would have exempted the state from having to follow World Health Organization or Centers for Disease Control guidance.


CONCORD — The House Thursday approved a bill that will upend the current voting process for the upcoming primary and general elections.

The House also voted to limit government agent access to posted no trespassing signs, repealed the prohibition on street gang weapons, and killed bills that would have the state join a national voter database system and would have established an independent redistricting commission.


The House passed House Bill 1569 that would eliminate the state’s affidavit voting system when someone fails to present a photo identification when voting or registering to vote on election day.

The bill’s supporters say the bill will bring the state in line with most other states that require a photo ID to vote, would guard against voter fraud and simply asks the question “Who are you?”

Rep. Robert Wherry, R-Hudson, said the bill does not ask more than people have to do when they board an airplane, rent a car or pick up a prescription.

“Once you are a registered voter, you need to answer just one question,” Wherry said. “Who are you?”
But opponents said the bill would disenfranchise thousands of state citizens and will upend the current election process just prior to the primary election in September and the general election in November and would subject the state to the Helping America Vote Act, which would mean the state would have to meet the voter motor requirement which would have the state register people to vote when they register their vehicles.

They also said the bill would allow anyone to challenge a person’s right to vote unless they can quickly access a superior court and would bring very expensive litigation.

“The governor and secretary of state have said our elections are fair and voter fraud is minimal,” said Rep. Heath Howard, D-Strafford. “A UNH survey said 92 percent of people are confident in our election results.”
The bill passed on a 189-185 vote and now goes to the Senate.

The House also voted down House Bill 1557 which would have required the state to join the Electronic Registration Information Center, which has about 20 states as members.

The bill was killed on a 189-185 vote.

The House also approved a series of bills to lower the time between voter purges of the voter rolls and failed to reach the three-fifth majority needed for a proposed constitutional amendment to establish an independent redistricting commission to draw the state’s political boundaries.

And the House killed a bill that would have prohibited anyone from intimidating election workers, exercising undue influence at the polls, or tampering with electronic ballot counting devices.


The House by one vote approved House Bill 1312, which includes a provision the House has voted down several times this and last session, that teachers have to answer questions honestly about a student when the parents ask for information. 

The bill would prevent any school district from adopting a policy that would prevent a teacher from answering a parent’s question about their child’s physical, mental or emotional health, sexuality, or changes in related services.

The provisions would be added to the law allowing parents to opt their child out of instruction on sex education.

The teacher would not be required to answer the question if he or she believed the answer could result in neglect or abuse.

“This should not be hard,” said Rep. Glenn Cordelli, R-Tuftonboro, “just tell the parents the truth when they ask.”
But opponents called the bill extremely impractical and would harm the most vulnerable students.

Rep. Hope Damon, D-Sunapee, said the bill would harm teachers’ ability to have trusted relationships with their students.

She singled out the Department of Education’s One Trusted Adult program which has a student find one trusted adult at school. 

Damon said the program is intended to prevent bullying, promote self-worth, and provide a safe place for learning in schools.

“A student can’t learn if they are not safe,” she said.

The bill passed on a 186-185 vote and now goes to the Senate.

The House killed two bills that would have put guardrails around the Education Freedom Account program.

One bill would have restricted the program to the budgeted amount of money for the program. 

Since its inception, the program has cost significantly more than Department of Education’s estimates.

The other bill would have required parents of EFA students to qualify annually under the financial cap.

Open Fields

The House voted to prevent government agents from going onto land that is restricted with “no trespassing” signs.

For years, the understanding was no one should expect privacy in an open field, while a 3-acre area around a residence would require a warrant to enter as well as the residence.

Supporters of House Bill 1204 said it would enhance constitutional protections for privacy.

Rep. Terry Roy, R-Deerfield, said “who wants government agents whatever their jobs on our land without a warrant.”
But opponents said it would end a long-standing doctrine that no one should have the expectation of privacy in an open field and has been the law for 100 years and there is no reason to change it now.

Rep. Ray Newman, D-Nashua, said at the public hearing the testimony on the bill said one thing, but the bill says something else. The bill says the warrant has to be obtained and shown to the owner for the agent to go on the land, he said.

He said the bill would cover more than 90 percent of the land in the state.

“This is a solution in search of a problem,” Newman said.

The bill passed on a 228-139 vote and nows goes to the Senate.

The House also approved House Bill 1276 which prohibits the sale or possession of blackjacks, sling shots and metallic knuckles except for minors.

Supporters of the bill said the items would allow good defensive tools for people like female joggers who would not want to carry a gun because it would be too heavy, and called them harm reduction tools.

But opponents said they are street weapons and will be used by gangs and others in street fights causing significant damage to those attacked.

They said ending the prohibition will immediately make communities less safe.

The bill was approved on a 198-175 vote and now goes to the Senate.


The House approved a bill that makes the $1.4 million of federal pandemic money allocated for the Northern Border Alliance with state and local police, fish and game officers and border patrol subject to lapsing at the end of this fiscal year. That means if any money is left into the account when fiscal 2024 ends June 30, the money goes into the general fund.

The bill allows for expanded patrols to guard against undocumented immigrants, and drug smugglers along the state’s border with Canada.

Gov. Chris Sununu established the program, but the number of intercepted people has not been significantly higher than in the past.

The House also killed a proposed constitutional amendment to require a two-thirds majority for any tax or fee increase or new tax or fee.

And the House killed House Bill 1254 which would have allowed towns and cities to collect a $2 per night surcharge on room rentals.

Home Grown

The House voted 294-66 to approve House Bill 1231, which allows qualified therapeutic cannabis program patients and or their designated caregivers over the age of 21 years old, to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic use.

Each patient will be permitted to possess eight ounces of cannabis, three mature plants, three immature plants, and twelve seedlings.


The House voted down a series of resolutions, which show the legislature’s intent but do not carry the weight of law, on universal health care insurance, climate change and differentiating between corporate and individual rights, but did approve a resolution to withdraw any support for Congress approving an Article 5 convention.

The House also voted down a bill that would have had the state exempt itself from guidance issued by the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control or Prevention.

 Garry Rayno may be reached at Garry Rayno is’s State House bureau chief who has been a reporter in NH for 40 years.

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