Election reform

Governors are already doing everything they can to make it harder to vote next election

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After spending much of the fall fighting to keep voting restrictions in place, some Republican governors are getting a head start for the next go around.

New Hampshire Governor-elect Chris Sununu said in an interview with New Hampshire Public Radio that he would like to eliminate the state’s practice of same-day voting registration.

The new governor, son of former senator and New Hampshire Governor John H. Sununu, wasn’t entirely clear about why he wanted to get rid of the practice.

“We just need our laws tighter. It’s not about fraud and a rigged system, that nonsense. It’s really just about making sure that our rules are clear, that they’re unambiguous, and that people can believe that as a full-time resident of the state of New Hampshire, your vote isn’t being watered down by someone who’s drive-thru voting, drive-by voting,” Sununu told NHPR. “We just need to modernize the system.”

It’s interesting that Sununu thinks getting rid of same-day voting is a modernization when in most states its addition is considered an innovation.

New Hampshire was one of the first states to add the practice in 1993 and 12 other states, as well as the District of Columbia, have gone the same way. If the governor is really concerned about voting modernization, maybe he could do something about the state’s anti-selfie law, based on the antiquated idea of vote buying and ruled unconstitutional by a federal court.

Sununu went on to say that he doesn’t think there’s any significant voter fraud going on, but that he questions the legitimacy of same-day voters given that New Hampshire does not have a residency requirement for voters. The state does require same-day registrants to provide proof of identity, age, citizenship, and domicile, same as those who register ahead of time, but that’s not enough for Sununu apparently.

A previous attempt in 2015 to establish a 30-day residency requirement was vetoed by then-Gov. Maggie Hassan, who is now New Hampshire’s new Democratic senator.

Halfway across the country, another Republican governor is facing difficulty in his attempts to put a stop to voting reform: Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner’s veto of automatic voter registration was overturned by the state Senate. The practice, which turns registering to vote into an opt-out process for everyone who gets a drivers’ license, is currently in place in five states, plus D.C.

Citing an argument used by such public luminaries as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rauner said he believed the convenience of automatic registration opened up the process to fraud.

“Unfortunately, as currently drafted, the bill would inadvertently open the door to voter fraud and run afoul of federal election law. We will continue working with the legislature and key stakeholders on language that meets our shared goals while complying with federal law and preventing voter fraud,” Rauner said in August when he vetoed the bill.

The Illinois state House will also need to vote by a two-thirds majority in order to completely override the veto and turn the bill into law. Considering the bill passed the House the first time, 86–33, well more than two-thirds, it shouldn’t be a problem.