Republicans are seeking sweeping voting reform, but the chances of success appear slim

The bills were as ambitious as they were short-lived. Two Republican attempts to overhaul who gets to vote in party primaries — and who gets to run — suffered major setbacks last week when the House Electoral Legislation Committee voted to recommend they not go ahead.

A bill, House Bill 101, would have required all voters in New Hampshire to register with a political party four months before the September state primary. This bill, which would have eliminated “open primaries” and ended New Hampshire’s tradition of unaffiliated voters entering a party’s primary and then registering as undeclared, was recommended by a 19-0 vote as “inconvenient for the legislature.” With this recommendation, it will probably be killed on the floor of the house.

MP Ross Berry, a Manchester Republican and vice-chair of the committee, argued that the bill would remove the ability for parties to choose whether to restrict their primary elections. Under current law, political parties can do so as long as they notify the Office of the Secretary of State.