MANCHESTER – The House voted largely against party lines to approve reshuffling three of the state’s political borders according to plans made by the Republican majority during its opening session Wednesday at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Manchester.
The controversial plan for the state’s two congressional districts brings about major changes by moving about 25 percent of the state’s population from one district to another. The change is expected to create a Republican-leaning district and a Democratic-leaning district, while both districts now have United States Democrats. Representatives.
The Republican plan would create a district that would stretch from the southwestern corner of the state to the southeastern corner with a reconfigured district in the lower middle part of the state.
The changes would move broadly Democratic coastal communities like Portsmouth, Dover and Durham from Borough 1 to Ward 2 and move Republican communities along the Massachusetts border like Salem and Windham from Ward 2 to Ward 1.
Democrats proposed a plan that would have moved Hampstead from Ward 1 to Ward 2 to accommodate the 18,000 additional residents of Ward 1 according to 2020 U.S. Census data.
Representative Marjorie Smith (D-Durham) said the GOP plan is intended to predetermine the outcome of the election. “(The change) would therefore deprive voters in this state of the ability to decide for themselves,” Smith said. “I believe this body is better than that.”
Voters have a say every two years, whether Democrats or Republicans, who will represent them, she said, and called on her colleagues to reject the majority plan so that a better plan can be developed. But Representative Bob Lynn (R-Windham) said the redesigned districts would better represent the political makeup of the state and would not “deny the right to vote” the 45% of Republicans like the current districts do.
“What is fair?” ” He asked. “To deprive 45% of Republicans or 2% of Democrats of the right to vote? The answer is obvious.
Democrats controlled the Congressional delegation after the last two elections, but the 1st District changed hands between Democrats and Republicans for a decade before that.
Democrats noted that the two congressional districts had not changed much since their inception in 1880, and that only one person testified in favor of the plan while many others opposed it.
“In New Hampshire we like to vote for our elected officials every two years, we are unique in the country,” Smith said. “This is one of our great strengths, we offer everyone a level playing field. “
She noted that this is one of the reasons, besides being a purple state, that New Hampshire has the country’s first presidential primary.
But Ross Berry (R-Manchester) said when new maps are drawn lawmakers shouldn’t start with the current districts but should strive to be fair to all.
“If you look at the original versions (of congressional districts) you wouldn’t recognize them today,” he said. “The original maps were meant to dilute the Catholic vote, which is why Manchester and Nashua are in two different districts.”
The House voted 186-164 to approve the GOP’s congressional plan.
The House passed plans to redesign House districts and county commissioner seats in nine of the state’s 10 counties – Strafford elects its three commissioners in general – on similar votes.
Attempts to carry over votes on the House and Congressional Districts maps failed on a tie vote with the Speaker of the House voting to create a tie and a vote after the House voted to pass the bills law today instead of at the end of the calendar Friday.
During the House Districts debate, Democrats said their plan would give more communities their own representative, as required by the state’s constitution, have more and more floating districts and better interest groups.
But Republicans have said their plan meets all federal and state constitutional requirements and responds to a statewide plan better than their counterparts.
The reshuffle of the House’s 400-seat plan had an agreement between Democrats and Republicans on plans for Belknap, Grafton and Sullivan counties, but not for the other seven counties.
Democrats said the Republicans’ plan in the short term changes the state’s largest city, Manchester, which is expected to have 33 or 34 representatives, but only have 32 under the GOP proposal.
However, Republicans said their plan did not focus solely on counties, towns and villages, and did not favor some communities over others.
The House redistribution plan was approved by a vote of 186-168, while the county commissioner districts passed a vote of 184-159.
All three bills now go to the Senate.