Time we move into the 21st century

New Hampshire is on the cusp of change and the election in November can make all the difference to its residents. We are one of the few states whereby the legislature, not voters, elects the Secretary of State. After the November election the new legislature, 424 members, will convene on Organization Day in December to elect the Secretary of State. For the past 42 years this has been William Gardner. It is more than time for a change and this year Colin Van Ostern of Fair and Free NH is running against him.

Voters across the nation are beginning to understand the importance of each state’s Secretary of State office. In recent years conflicts of interest have occurred that have changed the course of history. In the 2000 Presidential election, for example, the Florida Secretary of State, Katherine Harris, certified a presidential recount even though she had co-chaired the Republican campaign for George W. Bush. With the US Supreme Court recently dismantling the Voting Rights Act, more than ever we need non-partisan, civil servants holding this office who are there to serve the State and not a Party.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State has responsibility for seven divisions: Elections, Vital Records, Corporate, Corporate Securities, Uniform Commercial Code, Archives, and Administration. In recent years, the office of Secretary of State has chosen to pursue an out-of-the-mainstream political agenda focused on restricting the registration process for eligible NH voters. At the same time, the office has neglected some of its most basic functions. It is now known widely for its outdated websites and its refusal to help support local town officials who were navigating through blizzards on election day.

Candidates will soon be knocking on your door to introduce themselves. Ask them if they support a change in this office. Where do they stand on modernizing the office for voters, local officials, legislators, citizens, and business owners alike. Do they believe that we should make it harder for people to register to vote or easier? Should the Secretary of State’s Office cooperate better with local town and city officials or continue to usurp their authority when it comes to rescheduling elections due to inclement weather thereby disenfranchising the elderly and disabled. By voting for those interested in moving NH forward, we can move the Secretary of State’s Office from the 20th to the 21st century.