December was by far New Hampshire’s deadliest month for COVID-19 fatalities, with 233 recorded deaths, according to state data. That record high represents a 441.8% increase over November and a 32.4% increase over May of 2020, which recorded the state’s previous high of 176 deaths. 

The number of new recorded COVID-19 infections in December —23,034 — was more than double the total number of all recorded infections from March through November.

That huge increase in infections in just a few weeks indicates rapid and broad community spread of the virus. 

On Nov. 30, the state had tallied 20,994 total COVID-19 infections since the epidemic was first detected in New Hampshire. By December 31, the state had recorded 44,028 infections.

Total new infections in the month of November were 10,545. December’s 23,034 new infections represented a 118% increase over the previous month.

This rapid increase in infections and deaths is not unique to New Hampshire. December was the deadliest and most infectious month for the entire United States as well. 

As the Josiah Bartlett Center reported last month, the state’s hospitalizations figures are inaccurate, so we are not calculating a hospitalization total. 

The state officially listed an increase in total hospitalizations of only 63 for the month of December, an obviously incorrect number. The state went from 160 current hospitalizations on December 1 to 252 on December 15 to 317 on December 31. 

The large rise in daily numbers is not reflected in the state’s totals because the state does not include most hospitalizations in its totals.

The state’s official tally of total hospitalizations includes only people who were hospitalized when their COVID-19 infection was first recorded. Anyone hospitalized after the initial infection was recorded by the state shows up in the daily hospitalization count, but is not included in the total hospitalizations. 

President Donald Trump announced on Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19, raising several constitutional questions regarding the presidential election that is just weeks away. The Broadside, our weekly newsletter, which you can subscribe to here, spoke with N.H. Secretary of State Bill Gardner Friday morning to learn how various scenarios might play out under New Hampshire law.

First, if a president is temporarily incapacitated, the 25th Amendment sets out procedures for transferring power to an acting president, as explained here.

But what would happen electorally if the president of the United Staters should die or resign before the election on Nov. 3? (A president anticipating a grave illness or imminent death could resign before an election, immediately elevating the vice president to the presidency.)

In such a scenario, would ballots have to be changed? Would votes for Trump count? Would votes for Vice President Pence count? Gardner walked us through the various scenarios. 

“Some states, if the candidate dies the candidate remains on the ballot,” Gardner told The Broadside. “In this state, if the candidate dies after the Tuesday before the election, so it’s less than a week, then you don’t do anything. If it’s before that, the law has provisions for pasters over the name.”

Under state law, new ballots can be issued up to one week before the election. If a candidate for president were to die or withdraw from the race before the Tuesday before the election (in this case, Tuesday, Oct. 27, new ballots could be printed and rushed to polling places. State law (RSA 656:3) requires ballots to be sent “at least 6 days before” an election. 

Obviously, already issued absentee ballots could not be changed.

In the event that a nominated candidate withdraws, is incapacitated or dies before the election, RSA 655:38 and 655:39 establish that the candidate’s political party would choose a replacement. At the federal level, too, parties replace presidential nominees. 

The process of replacing a candidate on a ballot is governed by RSA 656:21, “Pasters; Substitute Candidates.” That law states:

“In the event that a candidate dies or is disqualified as provided in RSA 655:38 or 655:39, the name of the substitute candidate shall be printed on the state general election ballot. If the state general election ballots have already been prepared and time will permit, the secretary of state may authorize adhesive slips or pasters with the name of the substitute candidate thereon to be printed and sent to the town or city clerks representing the territory wherein the deceased or disqualified candidate was to be voted for. Such paster shall be affixed to the ballots as provided in RSA 658:34. The name of the substitute candidate shall be received by the secretary of state no later than the Tuesday prior to the election in order for a substitute name to be placed on the ballot.”

So what happens if a presidential candidate withdraws, is incapacitated or dies within a week of the election and there’s no time to put the replacement’s name on the ballot? The ballots won’t be changed, Gardner said.

But that’s OK for presidential elections since people don’t actually vote for presidents. 

Contrary to popular belief, your vote for a particular presidential candidate is not really a vote for that candidate. It’s a vote for a slate of presidential electors. (Constitutionally, there’s no such thing as “the popular vote” for president.)

As the Library of Congress explains: “When citizens cast their ballots for president in the popular vote, they elect a slate of electors. Electors then cast the votes that decide who becomes president of the United States.”

Constitutionally, a vote for President Trump is a vote for the Republican slate of electors. If President Trump were to resign or die before the election, citizens could still express their preference for the Republican nominee by checking Trump’s name on the ballot. 

Should President Trump win New Hampshire after dying or resigning, the state’s Republican electors would be free to cast their Electoral College votes for Mike Pence (who would already be president). Technically, New Hampshire’s electors can vote for whomever the party chooses as its replacement, or anyone else. No state law limits their vote.

“The electors actually can vote for whom they want,” Gardner said.  

That’s not necessarily the case in every state. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia have laws requiring electors to vote for their party’s nominees. Each law is worded differently, so it’s not clear if all of those electors could vote for the vice president-elect as president. 

In the case of a president dying or failing to qualify for the office after the Electoral College vote, the 20th Amendment states that the vice president-elect shall become acting president. But if the president-elect dies between the election and the Electoral College vote, it’s less clear how the transition would work, given that so many electors’ votes are bound by state laws. 

As usual, the process is simpler and easier to understand in New Hampshire. Electors are free to vote for whomever they want. So in the case of a candidate becoming ineligible during or immediately after the election, there’s no constitutional issue here. 

On June 30, 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue that states cannot exclude religious institutions from participating in school choice programs. New Hampshire has a similar scholarship program and a similar constitutional provision to the ones that were under discussion in the Espinoza case.

On July 8, the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy presented an online discussion of the case and its impact on New Hampshire, featuring two experts on the question of religious liberty and alternative education.

Tim Keller, senior attorney for the Institute for Justice, was a co-counsel for the plaintiff in the case.

Kate Baker is executive director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund N.H., which administers a New Hampshire tax-credit scholarship program.

In a webinar for the Josiah Bartlett Center, they explained the Espinoza ruling and its effect on New Hampshire.

We posted the video of that discussion on our newly resurrected YouTube channel here.

 

During this presidential primary season, Granite Staters will hear a lot of talk about the supposed benefits of socialism vs. the alleged failures of capitalism. This excellent, brief video from Prager University offers a good primer on the subject. It explains well the philosophical mistakes made in the assumption that socialism is morally superior to capitalism.

Sign up for our e-newsletter by Feb. 21 for a chance to win a $100 Murphy’s Taproom gift card!

Socialism is gaining popularity in the United States.

And we’re here to fight back… with beer.

Each Friday we publish a free-market e-newsletter called The Broadside.

Sign up for The Broadside using the form below — or refer a friend who signs up — by February 21, and you’ll be entered to win a $100 Murphy’s Taproom gift card!

Why February 21? Well, that’s the 171st anniversary of The Communist Manifesto.

Subscribe to The Broadside for the intellectual ammunition you need to win arguments with your socialist friends — or your online trolls, whichever.

Do it by Feb. 21 for a chance to win a pile of burgers and beer!

That’ll make you happy, and Marx hates happiness.

So sign up today and make Karl sad.

Editor’s note: John Kramer, vice president for communications at the Institute for Justice, won this year’s Thomas Roe Award, the highest award given by the State Policy Network for achievements in advancing free-market ideas. Kramer is from Sunapee, N.H. With his permission, we share his moving acceptance speech in the hope that it inspires others to challenge themselves, to overcome their fears and anxieties, and to learn and achieve more than they might think possible.

 

Chain of Inspiration

by John Kramer

 

In a tiny church in a tiny New Hampshire town, a Christian missionary from Africa delivered a plea for assistance.

“If we only had $200 for a row boat,” he said, “My mission could row across the lake where we live and we could bring the Word of God to those on the other shore—to the natives who have never heard the Gospel.”

In the congregation of that tiny church was a widow. She had been left with 9 children and no inheritance to speak of. She supported her family as a part-time public school teacher, helping kids with learning disabilities.

She had received her paycheck—an actual paper check back in those days—but she got it too late to deposit it. Back then, there were also these things called “banker’s hours.”

As the missionary concluded his talk, the ushers took up the collection. This widow opened her purse. Her kids looked over to see if she would direct a dollar their way to drop in the basket. Instead, she did something remarkable.

She took out that paycheck and endorsed it over to the church so this missionary could have the boat he needed to spread the Gospel.

Each of her kids panicked in the face of this act of charity—charity not given out of surplus, but out of genuine need.

How would they pay for food?

How would they pay for oil to heat their home with winter fast approaching?

Everyone in that family knew the daily hardships they already faced. They lived paycheck to paycheck. And here was their Mother giving away an entire paycheck—as an act of faith.

That woman—that widow—was my Mother, Therese Kramer.

I was her youngest. I want you to know that we did not go hungry. And we did not go cold.

The missionary left our church with the funds he needed for his boat—thanks to the widow’s mite.

But the story doesn’t end there. A couple from our parish—the Quinlans—learned about my Mother’s act of charity. They secretly paid for our entire heating bill that winter—an enormous sum compared to what my Mother had contributed. Because they wanted to remain anonymous, it took me 30 years to finally confirm it was the Quinlans who saved our family that winter.

So why do I donate paintings to worthy causes like State Policy Network or Christ House? Or work to build up those around me? Because I saw the example of my Mother. I saw the example of the Quinlans. Why has Shirley Roe created this award to honor her late husband? Because she saw Tom in action. She saw his values and his spirit, and she wanted Tom to inspire others for generations to come.

And that’s what I’d like to talk with you about tonight: The importance of that chain of instructive inspiration.

As I mentioned, I lost my father when I was very young. I was two-and-a-half. I never really knew him. But my Mother gave me a great piece of advice in the context of that loss. She said, “You may not have a father, but you have many father figures around you.  Study them.  Emulate them. Make their best traits your best traits.”

And that became a lifetime obsession for me. From my uncles, I learned the importance of a work ethic and always keeping your word. From my teachers, I learned the importance of studying history and civics and writing. From Chip Mellor—IJ’s first president—I learned by example the importance of staying true to your values and your vision.

From Clint Bolick—IJ’s other co-founder—I learned the importance of facing challenges with a joy-filled heart.

One day we faced an infuriating problem, and Clint told me, “Hey, we can solve these problems and be happy or we can solve this problem and be angry. I choose to be happy.”

What an instructive bit of inspiration for us all.  You can choose to face your challenge—any challenge—with a happy heart. It is no wonder that Chip and Clint are each Roe Award Winners. I am truly honored to join their ranks.

When we challenge ourselves to take on the best qualities of others, we are harnessing a life-changing force. That ability . . . that willingness . . . to change is the secret to a rewarding life.

Think for a moment about the happy and successful people you know. Likewise, think about those who are chronically miserable and failing. Have you pieced together yet what separates those two groups of people? Nearly all of the difference is found in how you handle the fear of the unknown. It is the people who embrace that fear . . .who grow and learn and improve . . .who become better-equipped to take on whatever life throws at them.

The more you welcome that challenge to improve—drawing inspiration from others—the more you’ll experience the world around you. And the more you experience, the more you’ll think. And the more you think, the more you’ll learn. And the more you’ll learn, the fewer frustrations you’ll feel and the braver you will become.

It all starts with embracing that chain of inspiration—of recognizing in others the qualities you want in yourself, and then making them part of who you are. Happiness is found in learning; and learning—real and deep and true learning—can only come from action.

So keep the faith, and keep at it. Because it matters. Because your work matters.

Seek out inspiration from those around you. And live in such a way that you inspire others. We can’t all be the missionary rowing across that lake. Nor should we be. We each have our own critical role to play in this movement.

Whether we’re marketers or attorneys or administrators or policy analyst or any other role in the Free Market Movement, we can ensure those around us have the resources and support and example they need to succeed, to spread the word of freedom.

Now let’s go get ’em!