To The Daily Sun,

New Hampshire’s Special Committee on Redistricting finally released their proposed maps for new voting districts in Belknap County. Public hearings were held on these maps in Concord on Nov. 9-10. I reviewed the maps, submitted written testimony and testified in person at the Nov. 9, hearing. I proposed an alternative map that would give nine of the 11 towns/cities their own representation, with only Center Harbor and New Hampton sharing a representative in my proposal.

The redistricting map proposed by the majority Republican Party ignores most of the feedback provided by voters when 74 towns in New Hampshire, including most in Belknap County, expressed their desire for fair and transparent maps. According to the NH Constitution, any town with a population greater than 3,444 is entitled to its own state representative. The redistricting committee has ignored this and instead focuses on a “deviation statistic” they deem more important than the desire of the voters.

Here is what the Republican proposed map does for Belknap County. It takes away the two Belmont-specific representatives. It creates a new district that combines Belmont, Gilmanton, and Ward 4 of Laconia and gives this new district four representatives. Based on the NH constitution and the town populations, Gilford and Meredith should have two representatives each. Under the proposed Republican map, the two towns share four representatives. Similarly, Tilton, Barnstead, and Alton should each have their own representative. In the proposed map, Tilton is combined with Sanbornton; Alton and Barnstead are also combined. Five wards in Laconia share four representatives in the proposal.

The appalling result of the new map is that voters in the combined districts are likely to be represented by someone from another town that doesn’t share the same issues. Voters are less likely to get to know their representatives. Representatives will most likely come from the majority party of the combined towns. Races are less competitive in larger districts. The 400-member NH legislature was created to provide local representation. Combining towns into large districts takes away this advantage.

At the hearing I attended, almost all the speakers expressed their disapproval of the Republican proposed maps and how the committee is ignoring the feedback expressed at the hearings. Democracy is dying in New Hampshire. The will of the voters is being ignored. For other examples, look at what is happening to the County Nursing Home or the controversy surrounding the future of Gunstock Ski Area. Contact your state representatives and tell them it’s time to listen to their constituents and abide by the NH constitution. Do you really want to live with their proposal for the next ten years?

Don House

Belmont

(1) comment

bunnell.brendan

Thank you for sharing. I will be getting involved. I have long looked to our 400 member legislature as a great representation of our commitment to limited and responsible government. This is appalling.

-Center Harbor

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