Open Democracy Minute
The Open Democracy Minute is a weekly 90-second broadcast on democracy issues and legislation in New Hampshire, so voters can be better informed, and how to be civically engaged. Episodes back to 2019 can be found at said, Democracy isn't something we HAVE, it's something we DO!
July 25, 2021
Episode 32767: Open Democracy Minute for July 12, 2021: Gov. Sununu sees SB 89 shortly, prohibiting NH from using federal "For the People Act" for state elections
You're listening to the Open Democracy Minute, keeping Granite State government by and for the people.Earlier this spring, SB 89 was heard in the NH Senate and House Election law committees. We described in May how SB 89 had been a bill with some sensible election improvements. But when it arrived in House Election law, the anti-voter faction of the committee passed an amendment block the federal, not-even-approved-yet S.1 For the People Act, from being used for state elections. Surprisingly, the Senate “concurred” with the amendment, and is sending the bill to Governor Sununu, who has not yet signed the bill. Grandstanding to support the Big Lie, to be sure, since the For the People Act still has hurdles in the U.S. Senate. Should he sign the bill, Governor Sununu would be responsible for additional cost and chaos in our electoral system. SB 89 would result in separate federal and state ballots, separate absentee ballots, and separate voter registration systems. There would be early voting for federal elections, but not for state. And there will be expense to the state and towns. The For the People Act, would have covered some of the expense both – if the state's election wasn't separate.Governor Sununu has a choice to make on whether to choose fiscal responsibility over unfunded mandates. Sensible reforms over chaos. And the Freedom to Vote over suppression. As Granny D said, “Democracy is not something we HAVE, it's something we DO.” Governor Sununu's phone number is 603-271-2121.For the Open Democracy Minute, I'm Brian Beihl.
July 19, 2021
Episode 32767: Votes on filibuster rules & S.1 For the People Act expected by the end of July
You're listening to the Open Democracy Minute, keeping Granite State government by and for the people.Democracy advocates are predicting that votes on changing the filibuster rules and a subsequent vote to pass the S.1 For the People Act are expected in the United States Senate by the end of July.With President Biden's speech last week calling for passage of the landmark voting rights, money-in-politics, ethics reform & enforcement and election modernization bill, negotiations behind the scenes have ramped up to change the filibuster rules.“Carve-outs” have made changes to the filibuster in the past, allowing simple majority votes when approving federal judges or budgets, for instance. Sen. Joe Manchin expressed openness to a 55-vote majority to end the filibuster, but that still would not be enough given a red wall of Republican opposition to the For the People Act, the provisions of which would derail state legislature efforts to tighten voting around the U.S. VP Harris is reportedly making the rounds among her former Senate colleagues, trying to determine what changes Senators would make. NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen has called for the elimination of the filibuster in past years, and Senator Maggie Hassan recently expressed a willingness to consider a “standing” filibuster,” but is unwilling to do away with the filibuster entirely, citing its role in forcing bipartisanship. It is still unclear as the extend to which our U.S. Senators are willing to fight for the protection of voters and the electoral system. As Granny D said, “Democracy is not something we HAVE, it's something we DO.” For the Open Democracy Minute, I'm Brian Beihl.
July 12, 2021
Episode 32767: Open Democracy Minute for July 12, 2021: Celebration of the 26th Amendment in the shadow of proposed state laws trying to make youth voting more difficult
You're listening to the Open Democracy Minute, keeping Granite State government by and for the people.This past Saturday in Portsmouth, NH, Open Democracy hosted its annual Seacoast Walk & Rally, this year devoted to the 50th anniversary of the 26th amendment, giving 18-year-olds the franchise to vote and run for office. A momentus event to celebrate, for sure.But lurking in the shadows are a number of bills in the NH legislature, aimed at chipping away at this freedom to vote, particularly aimed at students. Ferocious testimony against those bills in March resulted in them being retained, but we are expecting them to resurface in August or September. They include bills changing the definition of “NH domicile,” disallowing college students who spend most of their time in NH, from voting. Another bill ends same-day registration, targeted toward students and lower-income voters. One bill even tries to have absentee ballot voters have their application notarized at their expense, if the ballot will be sent to an address other than the voter registration address of record. That makes it more difficult for students, the elderly and the disabled if they are away from home or at a care facility. All of these bills masquerade as so-called “election integrity” bills, but their true intent is to make it more difficult for certain voters to cast their ballots.The prospect that these discriminatory bills could pass in NH adds urgency to the passing of the S.1 For the People Act in the U.S. Senate, which NH Senators support, but so far have not signaled they are willing to stick their necks out for.As Granny D said, “Democracy is not something we HAVE, it's something we DO.” For the Open Democracy Minute, I'm Brian Beihl.
July 5, 2021
Episode 32767: Open Democracy Minute for July 5, 2021: NH Special Committee on Redistricting Struggling to be Transparent
You're listening to the Open Democracy Minute, keeping Granite State government by and for the people.The U.S. Census Bureau will release town-level population data in its legacy format beginning in August. Last Tuesday, the NH legislature's Special Committee on Redistricting which will use that data to draw new voting maps met for the second time. The meeting resulted in one step forward for transparency and two steps back. The committee announced its plans for a website to share redistricting maps and materials, a step forward. But it also announced that it would use the same home-grown software used in the 2011 redistricting effort which resulted in gerrymandered NH House, Senate and Executive Council districts, and the committee refused to allow the public to inspect the software, citing “licensing” issues.The House-appointed committee also signaled that it would refuse to take in-person public input. This would include towns which did not receive their constitutionally-guaranteed NH House districts, or from citizens harmed when traditionally-linked towns with important “communities of interest” were split last time. Such input will now have to be submitted in writing. All this after 71 New Hampshire towns have passed the NH Resolution for Fair, Nonpartisan Redistricting, which calls for full transparency in the process. Gerrymandering is a redistricting process gone bad, manipulating the maps for partisan purposes. It's a thumb on the scale of fair elections, and its results silence the true will of the people.As Granny D said, “Democracy is not something we HAVE, it's something we DO.” For the Open Democracy Minute, I'm Brian Beihl. r
June 28, 2021
Episode 32767: Open Democracy Minute for June 28, 2021
You're listening to the Open Democracy Minute, keeping Granite State government by and for the people. If you listened to the press last week, you may have heard that the sweeping democracy-saving voting rights & anti-corruption bill, the S.1 For the People Act is dead. As Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” Last week's vote made clear that the For the People Act has no Republican support, and Democratic Senator Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia has said he won't support the bill as is. But he HAS offered amendments, and negotiations have ramped up on a modified bill, including making changes to require voter ID provisions but also allow voters to use water & property tax bills and other ways to identify voters. The big blocking point is not Sen. Manchin or even Republicans at this point. It's the fililbuster, which requires 60 votes to stop, and last week's vote ended in a 50-50 tie. Manchin said that he's open to dropping the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster down to 55, and making the filibuster an old school “standing” filibuster. While most democracy advocates favor doing away the the filibuster altogether, NH Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen have not made it clear how far they will go to change the filibuster and get the for the people act passed. The Senate switchboard is 888-453-3211. Negotiations on S. 1 and the filibuster are expected to continue until August. As Granny D said, “Democracy is not something we HAVE, it's something we DO.” For the Open Democracy Minute, I'm Brian Beihl. r
June 21, 2021
Episode 32767: Open Democracy Minute for June 21, 2021
You're listening to the Open Democracy Minute, keeping Granite State government by and for the people. This Wednesday or Thursday, the U.S. Senate takes its first vote on the H.R. 1 / S.1 for the People Act, the largest democracy-saving bill in 50 years, and possibly in American history.. With the over new 400 state laws now proposed to maliciously tighten voting access, the For the People Act sets minimum voting standards for elections to override these laws. S. 1 also adds ethic rules and enforcement, makes Dark Money groups disclose who's funding them, protects mail voting, requires early voting, makes online voter registration available nationwide, adds an independent redistricting commission and a whole lot more. Sen. Joe Manchin from West Virginia has said he won't support the bill as is, and has offered alternatives, including making changes to S.1's voter ID provisions, but also allows voters to use water & property tax bills and other ways to identify voters. He's also suggested that he's open to dropping the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster down to 55, which still may be too high given Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's proclamation that no Republicans will vote for the bill. NH Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen support S.1, but have not made it clear whether they support repealing the filibuster, or modifying it. The Senate switchboard is 888-453-3211. As Granny D said, “Democracy is not something we HAVE, it's something we DO.” For the Open Democracy Minute, I'm Brian Beihl.
June 21, 2021
Episode 32766: Open Democracy Minute for June 14, 2021
You're listening to the Open Democracy Minute, keeping Granite State government by and for the people. A follow up from last week on some of the bills which passed in the NH House & Senate. We were awaiting the “concur” votes on bills which passed with amendments, forcing them to return to the originating body to “concur” with the changes made. Some of them, like the anti-For the People Act amendment on SB 89, were substantial changes of questionable intent. But the Senate concurred with the changes made in the House, despite the lack of a fiscal note on SB 89 and the additional expenses to cities and towns. HB 523, which requires anyone registering to vote and who doesn't have an ID to have their picture taken, also received a concur vote. However, SB 31, a bill which changed some of the language on the absentee ballot application and was amended in the House, was met with a “non-concur” vote, and will go to a committee of conference to sort out the differences between the House & Senate versions. Senate bill 83, which had two of its sections stripped out by the House receive a non-concur vote by the Senate, but will not go to a committee of conference and is dead. House bill 391, which originally increased campaign donation limits, had it's language added to another bill. That bill; too, died when the House refused to concur or join a committee of conference. Another session to consider the committee of conference results will be June 24, and the remaining bills will go to Governor Sununu. As Granny D said, “Democracy is not something we HAVE, it's something we DO.” For the Open Democracy Minute, I'm Brian Beihl
June 7, 2021
Episode 32767: Open Demcracy Minute for June 7, 2021
You're listening to the Open Democracy Minute, keeping Granite State government by and for the people. We told you last week about the remaining Democracy bills before the full NH House last Thursday. There's some good news and some bad news. We're glad that SB 46 passed, a bill which allows towns to use electronic check in when you vote, after years of opposition from the technology-averse NH Secretary of State's office. This will reduce wait times and save election officials a lot labor. SB 31 passed, but not with the originally proposal of “medical conditions” as an excuse for requesting an absentee ballot. Because, evidently, no one ever gets sick in NH. SB 83 also passed, but not with the advance of a secure electronic portal to submit documents to register to vote. Because the citizens of NH can't be trusted to submit documents or make address changes using their computers, like say, mortgages, or the U.S. Postal Service And SB 89 passed, despite the last-minute amendment which keeps NH from following federal election protection rules being proposed by the H.R. 1 / S. 1 For the People Act. Perhaps because the NH legislature has 15 anti-voter bills held back in committee, waiting for a moment when you're not looking to pass them. As Granny D said, “Democracy is not something we HAVE, it's something we DO.” For the Open Democracy Minute, I'm Brian Beihl.
June 2, 2021
Episode 32767: Open Democracy Minute for May 31, 2021
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