To The Daily Sun,
On Monday, March 13, Governor Sununu, with the assistance of Secretary of State Bill Gardner and House Speaker Shawn Jasper, told town officials that they were "strongly encouraged" to hold Tuesday's election, ignoring potential safety issues with the impending storm. Sununu also issued a thinly-veiled warning that there might be legal challenges to the results if towns disobeyed him and postponed the election.
Moderators who reminded the governor that RSA 40:4.ii gives them the legal right to postpone an election for inclement weather were told that was not an option.
Yet, on Tuesday, New Hampshire legislative sessions were canceled, state employees were encouraged to work at home, and all state liquor store employees were sent home early because of the storm. On the other hand, voters, town officials, and poll workers were not given such protection. Once the polls opened, they had to remain open until after dark. Voters had to choose between their basic rights and their safety. When poll workers and town officials finished their duties, they had to dig out their cars and then face whiteout conditions, unplowed roads, and drifting snow while state officials were snug and safe at home.
Given that it was a local election, our governor should have encouraged each town moderator to do what was best and safest for each community. And, the state should have been more proactive, knowing that there was a serious weather event coming. Town moderators had been discussing the issue for several days. The hastily-called conference call between the governor and town officials didn't occur until mid-afternoon on Monday. The governor was unable to answer basic questions, and he didn't seem very well prepared in general. But, he was adamant that he was right, and that the towns could not exercise their best judgment.
State government should always work for and represent the people. That is their job. They didn't do it in this instance, and they need to be held accountable.
- Category: Letters
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