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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Rep. Kurk defends his daughter voting in NH while living in Hawaii

By John DiStaso
Senior Political Reporter

July 30. 2013 3:54PM

TUESDAY, JULY 30: FROM HAWAII TO NH. A prominent veteran Republican state representative says his daughter has lived in Hawaii for "10 to 15 years," but has properly and legally voted by absentee ballot in Weare in the past several elections.

Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, ranking member of the House Finance Committee who has been in the House for 27 years, said Tuesday the case of his 46-year-old daughter, Kendra Kurk Anderson, is far different from what he called the "carpetbaggers" -- that is, campaign workers -- who stayed at Democratic state Sen. Martha Fuller Clark's home in Portsmouth around the times of the 2008 and 2012 elections and then moved on.

Kurk said his daughter was born and raised in Weare, has close ties to the town through friends and family and returns to the town for months at a time each year.

The Granite Status verified that Anderson is still on the voter checklist in Weare and voted in at least the last two election cycles, 2012 and 2008 by absentee ballot in Weare.

Anderson's profile says she has lived in Hawaii since 2007, but Kurk said his daughter has actually been in Hawaii "for 10 years, maybe 15."

State law says that "every inhabitant" of the state, "having a single established domicile for voting purposes," has a right to vote.

But RSA 654:1 goes on to say that a domicile for voting purposes "is that one place where a person, more than any other place, has established a physical presence and manifests an intent to maintain a single continuous presence for domestic, social and civil purposes relevant to participating in democratic self-government."

But state law also allows for a "temporary absence."

RSA 654:2 says, "A domicile for voting purposes acquired by any person in any town shall not be interrupted or lost by a temporary absence therefrom with the intention of returning thereto as his or her domicile."

The law says, "Domicile for purposes of voting is a question of fact and intention. A voter can have only one domicile for these purposes."

The law also allows for people to maintain their domicile in the state "while employed in the service of the United States" or while a teacher or student in another community or state, or while a prisoner or patient in an institution.

Meanwhile, the state Republican Party has been pressuring Fuller Clark of Portsmouth to ask four campaign workers who stayed at her home either in 2012 or 2008 and voted in Portsmouth, and then left the state, to remove their names from the Portsmouth checklist.

The GOP says that if she does not ask them to remove their names, the party will file a petition in Superior Court seeking to have the names removed.

Kurk sees a big difference between the Fuller Clark case and the case of his daughter. And he did not shy away from talking about it.

"I'm very proud of it," he said. "This is a girl who loves her home town so much that she wants to vote here. She wants to come back here.

"I'd think this is the type of people that New Hampshire would very much admire and encourage."

Kurk said his daughter is "following the law.

"Unlike the Martha Fuller Clark group, which were a bunch of carpetbaggers, this girl was brought up in Weare, went to schools here, had her domicile here, voted here for years, lived here for years, and then went around the country following her husband, who is in the Department of Defense, and she maintained a residence here.

"She has her drivers license here," Kurk said. "She's done everything she's supposed to do. She's in complete compliance with the law.

"If some people don't like the law because they think that people who have long absences from their home should not be allowed to vote there, then they should change the law," Kurk said.

But he said, "That would affect federal employees, who are now exempted. It would affect students and teachers who might be away for five or 10 years.

"But as the law is now, she is in full compliance and she's very proud to be a voter of Weare and a domiciliary of Weare."

Kurk said he understand the law allows for people who "go away for a while and maintain connections in the community and vote here. But they don't live in the sense of putting their heads on a pillow here for 183 days a year."

He said that while some may question whether such a person "has an attachment to the community, I suppose that's an individual question. But my daughter maintains contact with her friends here. She has friends here. Her children have friends here. She spends a couple of months a year here.

"And the law permits this because the law says basically you can vote wherever you maintain your domicile. And your domicile is your place to which you intend to return from wherever you are."

Before speaking with the Granite Status, Kurk appeared Tuesday morning with Manchester radio talk show host Rich Girard on WLMW-FM's "Girard-At-Large," saying his daughter was a "domiciliary" of the state and voted in New Hampshire as a college student and when she worked in other states even before getting married and going to Hawaii.

He said she "has intention presumably to come back" to New Hampshire eventually.

"It would be imprudent for New Hampshire to say you have to sleep in the state for 183 days a year in order to qualify to vote," he told Girard.

Kurk also said the "temporary absence" law does not define temporary, and, he pointed out, the U.S. Supreme Court has said temporary absence is defined by the intention of the voter.

He said that former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter left Weare for 20 years while serving on the court and did not lose his domicile.

Secretary of State William Gardner did not want to speak specifically about Kurk's daughter Tuesday but noted that the law allows people to maintain domicile in New Hampshire if they follow a spouse who is in the service of the federal government and that service takes them out-of-state.

He said each case must be judged individually, saying, ""It is not black and white."

As for the Fuller Clark situation, Gardner said it is impossible to know the state of mind of the voters.

"There's always a story," he said, deferring to the Attorney General, who is reviewing the case.

"In the end, it's their call," Gardner said. "They have the authority and I respect that."

Democratic National Committeewoman Kathy Sullivan charged the NHGOP with hypocrisy.

"The people in charge of the NHGOP think it's OK for Kelly Ayotte's campaign manager and Mitt Romney's state director to move here to work on campaigns and vote, but not Senator Clark's campaign manager. They think it's OK for Neal Kurk's daughter to live in Hawaii while maintaining a New Hampshire domicile, but not Molly Shaheen. They think it's OK for Bill O'Brien's son to vote in his college town, but not 'liberal' college students.

"I don't have a problem with Neal Kurk's daughter voting in New Hampshire," Sullivan said, "but I do have a problem with the utter hypocrisy and dishonesty of the Republican Party's leadership."

(For earlier Granite Status reports, click on "Granite Status" above.)

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