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January 27. 2014 10:01PM

8,200 Manchester residents could be cut from voter rolls

MANCHESTER — Officials in the Queen City could remove up to 8,200 people from its voter rolls in the coming months as part of a citywide “checklist verification” process.

Starting on Thursday, the Office of the City Clerk will send postcards to 8,200 residents who have not voted according to its records since the 2008 election.

City Clerk Matt Normand said the goal was to keep the voter list as up to date as possible to avoid a large and complicated state-mandated purge in 2020.

“Periodic verification avoids a major purge of tens of thousands of voters during the state-mandated 10-year checklist purge, which stresses the office and ward officials for those looking to re-register once in any of the subsequent eight citywide elections held at Manchester polls,” Normand said in a statement announcing the move.

Normand said in an interview that Nashua did something similar in 2005, midway between the 10-year statewide purges.

The last state purge, in 2011, resulted in 11,000 voters being removed from the Manchester voter list.

The cards will explain how to register to vote. The process involves going to the clerk’s office with valid photo identification and proof of domicile, such as a valid state vehicle registration, utility bill or pay stubs with the resident’s Manchester address.

Voters who do not re-register will be removed from the voter list, Normand said.

Residents can still register up to and on Election Day, under state law.

The review of voting records comes at the start of a statewide election year, with races for governor, the Legislature, one U.S. Senate seat and two House seats.

In recent years, political parties have increasingly traded accusations of voter fraud, including allegations that out-of-state voters have falsely registered in the state to have a say in the important first-in-the-nation primary.

Normand said he was aware of the debate around voter fraud, but insisted the review in Manchester has nothing to do with politics.

“I guess for conspiracy theorists this is a widespread issue in Manchester, so we’ve had conversations,” he said. “But this is just prompted by our belief that 62,000 people on the checklist is a large number, and when we ran a query we already had 8,200 people that haven’t voted in eight years.”

Normand said the city was authorized to undertake the periodic review under the state law RSA 654:44.

He added that he consulted with the Secretary of State’s Office about the plan in December.

“They thought it was a good idea,” he said.
tsiefer@unionleader.com


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