This past weekend, almost 300 people marched to the NH State House from Concord High School to demonstrate their support for protecting the right to vote. A number of bills that would impact people’s ability to vote are currently under consideration at the State House. So I went up to Concord to check it out and take a few pictures.
I found people of all ages and backgrounds came out – military veterans, college students, retirees, elected officials, and various political partisans – Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, and Libertarians.
Of the many bills going through the state legislature, voting rights advocates are strongly opposed to SB3, aka Senate Bill 3, aka, “Relative to Domicile for Voting Purposes.” The bill would make it difficult for new voters to prove their residency, requiring lengthy and complicated forms. State officials then would send agents to investigate the residence.
Marchers gathered at Concord High School and walked with signs and banners to the city sidewalks to the steps of the State House. Volunteers had marchers sign waivers before heading out.
A sizable crowd gathered at Concord High School to march.
Lead organizer, Olivia Zink, provided instruction before beginning the march.
Dan Weeks, former Executive Director of Open Democracy, led the marchers in some chants – “Why do we walk? Democracy! When do we want it? Now!”
At the steps of the State House, speakers addressed the rally goers while they ate ice cream.
One speaker at the rally was a graduate student at Antioch University. She has lived in Keene for the last two years and described how Senate Bill 3 would make it harder for students to vote. She said, “I feel welcome at my school. I feel welcome at my church. I feel welcome in my community, but I don’t feel welcome as a voter.”
Navy veteran, Ana Ford, spoke about how the latest voter bills will make it more difficult to vote for people enlisted in the military.
Reverend Gail Kinney, below, said that voter suppression laws like Senate Bill 3 amount to a violation of the Ninth Commandment – Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. Those that support voter suppression laws claim that voter fraud is a big problem, but provide no substantial evidence to back up the claim.
Dan Weeks (below) was emcee at the rally. He said “We march today for tens of thousands of our fellow citizens who have the right to vote and that should not be taken away.” He gave some statistics of people who would be impacted by laws preventing same day voting: 44,000 new voters registered at the polls at the last election. 32,000 people found they had been taken off the voter rolls when they went to vote and had to re-register. 5,000 college students also voted in the last election.
Lou Feldstein (below), volunteered in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era. He marched with Martin Luther King Jr and 25,000 other people from Selma to Montgomery to fight for the right to vote. Lou reminded us that Dr. King was killed 50 years ago and the fight to protect voting rights will continue.
Eli, seen below, is a Young Republican and military veteran. He said Senate Bill 3 is not a Republican bill but an anti-democracy bill. “If your best shot at winning an election is preventing other people from voting, rather than running on a better idea, you have no business running for government.”
Legal Director of the NH American Civil Liberties Union spoke about current voter suppression tactics like voter ID laws, restrictions on registration, and limiting early voting. These laws disproportionately affect the elderly, the poor, and college students.
State Senator, Dan Feltes, spoke at the rally – seen below. He voted against Senate Bill 3, saying that it flies in the face of our values of an open and inclusive democracy. He called on attendees to testify against the bill at the House hearing.
Sunday’s event was hosted by Open Democracy – a New Hampshire organization dedicated to strengthening the ability of citizens to participate in America’s democratic republic and limit the big money influence of special interests on our politics. The organization was founded by New Hampshire’s very own “Granny D,” Doris Haddock. At the age of 90 years old, Granny D walked across the country from California to Washington DC, calling for campaign finance reform.
Eric Zulaski is an amateur photographer living in Manchester. Share with him your photos of New Hampshire at NHinFocus (at) Gmail (dot) com