Tuesday, March 16, 2010
This isn't your parents' New Hampshire
Many cities and towns in the state recently put a non-binding referendum before voters either by ballot or town meeting. The threshold for getting the question on the ballot was as low as 25 signatures in some places. And because there was little else of importance on the ballot -- and because the questions were barely publicized -- conventional wisdom held that only energized anti-equality voters would head to the polls.
But a funny thing happened on the way to the ballot box. As expected, most towns passed the referendum. However, the result was far from overwhelming. In fact, while the question passed 53 cities or towns, 43 towns either rejected the measure or refused to vote on it. That’s far better than we expected to do. If the anti-equality folks had any hope of a Constitutional amendment in the near future, that hope was crushed. If an amendment were to make it on the New Hampshire ballot, the measure would have to received support from 2/3 of the voters. Very few towns passed the referendum by this margin.
And then there was the story of Plainville, where anti-equality folks expected an easy victory at the town meeting. Instead, the question was rejected 185-40. Then the voters requested the board of selectmen to write to the governor and the legislature "commending them for passing and signing into law legislation affirming marriage equality for all New Hampshire residents."