By: Bradford E. Cook and Katherine M. Hanna
June 10, 2020
On April 27, Secretary of State Bill Gardner appointed a 6-person Select Committee on 2020 Emergency Election Support to advise him on how to spend $3.2M of federal CARE Act funds to provide for safe and secure elections in the Fall of 2020, in the midst of the COVID crisis. The Committee, chaired by Sheehan Phinney’s Attorney Brad Cook, was comprised of 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats (including another Sheehan Phinney lawyer, Kate Hanna). During April, May, and June, the Committee held public sessions by zoom, and received testimony from numerous NH citizens and interest groups, including Election Clerks, Moderators, Supervisors of the Checklists, college and university representatives, high school teachers, healthcare organizations, labor organizations, disability rights advocates, public health officials, and others regarding the challenges faced by their constituencies as they proceed to exercise their right to vote and register to vote during the pandemic. While much of the Committee’s work was focused on providing PPE and other measures to assure safe and sanitary polling places, a large part of the Committee’s work was also focused on providing alternatives to in-person voting and registration, including promoting absentee voting and registration for the Fall Elections. The Committee was assisted at every meeting by representatives of the Secretary of State’s Office and the NH Attorney General’s Office, who have issued helpful joint opinions to the effect that anyone who wishes to vote or register to vote in the Fall elections may do so by absentee ballot or absentee registration.
On June 8, 2020, the Committee delivered its 31-page report to the Secretary of State who issued the following Statement and Summary of the Select Committee on 2020 Emergency Election Support. On June 10, the Secretary of State posted the Committee’s final report on its website.