Expect an impassioned, and probably lengthy, debate Thursday morning when the Republican-backed voting reform bill, Senate Bill 3, comes to the state Senate floor for a vote. The bill tightens the requirements for new voters to show that they are domiciled in the state. It doesn’t stop anyone who goes to the polls without an ID from voting, but requires proof of residency be provided afterwards. But by all accounts, the bill -– dubbed a “voter suppression” bill -– by its opponents, is fully expected to pass the Senate on a 14-9 party-line vote. Read two of our earlier reports on the bill here and here.
The chief sponsor, Sen. Regina Birdsell, a Hampstead Republican who chairs the Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee, told New Hampshire Primary Source there will be no Republican amendments offered from the floor and the bill will receive an up-or-down vote.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said the latest amendment to the bill, brought forward by Birdsell two weeks ago, responded to concerns of constituents – particularly the move to remove a provision that allowed police officials to knock on voters’ doors to try to verify their domiciles.
Opponents say the move is a ruse and that “agents” assigned by local election officials, as mentioned in the bill, could be police officers or even “vigilantes.”
Bradley said he expects a 14-9 party line vote to pass the bill to the New Hampshire House.
Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn of Dalton said his caucus has no plans to introduce an amendment if the bill somehow fails to pass.