The year 2015 in Bennington brought us only the Town Election, leaving the Supervisors time to train, organize and prepare for the future. And what a future 2016 is! Four elections, one of them a Presidential Primary. As of this writing, we don't know what the voter turnout on February 9 will be, but we do know it is projected to be high, with competitive elections on both the Democratic and the Republican races.
As of this writing, there are 964 registered voters in Bennington: 207 Democrats, 309 Republicans, and 448 Undeclared. However, this number is expected to change, as it always does in Presidential Election years.
2016 also brings us another change in our Board of Supervisors. This year, Drusilla Cox has decided to retire after 12 years as a Supervisor. Those years have witnessed many changes to elections, not the least of which was the transition to a centralized voter registration database, and the advent of new stricter voter ID laws. We will be sad to see Dru leave us after all this time, but understand her desire to let someone else have some fun! Stepping into her role is Brenda Gibbons, who has been a ballot clerk for several years. Thanks, Brenda, for stepping up!
Other changes in 2016 include some important changes to Election laws, especially New Hampshire's voter ID law, which grows increasingly complicated as each legislative session has its way with it. The Supervisors feel that many of these changes make it more difficult for voters to sign in, adding cumbersome steps to the process without demonstrated benefits. A look at the Secretary of State's website reveals that there have been no verified cases of in-person voter fraud in New Hampshire in the years 2006 to present:
We certainly want to be sure that our elections are fair, open, and honest. But laws that have a chilling affect on voter turnout with no proven benefit are too restrictive, and should come under close scrutiny by the legislature in the coming years. Photo ID laws could be a red herring that diverts attention from more important concerns (for example, the very real threat of electronic voting machines being hacked and tampered with). Interested in learning more about voting in the modern age? Here's a good place to start:
Fortunately, we still count votes by hand in Bennington, and we welcome volunteers to help. Vote counting is an interesting and rewarding way to get involved with your community. Every vote will be counted, and every vote counts! Paper ballots are still the best guarantee of free and open elections, as they ensure a voter-verified paper trail. All are welcome to lend a hand on Election Day evening. Volunteer with the Town Moderator or Town Clerk if you would like to help either during the day or in the evening.
Please remember to bring your photo ID to the polls. This helps us all keep things moving in this busy election year:
The following forms of ID are acceptable:
(1) A driver’s license issued by any state or the federal government.
(2) An identification card issued under RSA 260:21 or a nondriver’s identification card issued by the motor vehicles division, department, agency, or office of any other state.
(3) A United States armed services identification card.
(4) A United States passport or passcard.
(5) A valid student identification card.
(6) A photo identification determined to be legitimate by the Supervisors of the Checklist, the Moderator, or the Town Clerk.
If you do not have one of these, you may have to fill out a "challenged voter affidavit" as means of proving that you are indeed qualified to vote in town.
Don't forget to visit the Bennington Elections web-pages if you have questions about voting, elections, etc. In them you can find information about registering to vote, the photo I.D. law, the Election schedule, absentee voting, previous years' election reports, links to State and Federal Elections' sites, and more. Please visit them at:
See you at the polls!
Drusilla Cox (outgoing),
Brenda Gibbons (interim),
SUPERVISORS OF THE CHECKLIST