Bill Gardner (politician)

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Bill Gardner
New Hampshire Secretary of State
Assumed office
December 2, 1976
GovernorMeldrim Thomson Jr.
Hugh Gallen
Vesta M. Roy (acting)
John H. Sununu
Judd Gregg
Steve Merrill
Jeanne Shaheen
Craig Benson
John Lynch
Maggie Hassan
Chris Sununu
Preceded byEd Kelly (acting)
Personal details
Born (1948-10-26) October 26, 1948 (age 70)
Manchester, New Hampshire,
Political partyDemocratic[1]
EducationUniversity of New Hampshire (BA)
Harvard University (MPA)
London School of Economics (MSc)
University of North Carolina at Greensboro (MA)

Bill Gardner (born October 26, 1948) is the current Secretary of State of New Hampshire. He is in charge of the department that oversees all general elections, primary elections, voter registration and recounts within the state, including the New Hampshire primary. He is the longest currently-serving Secretary of State in the United States.

Career in politics[edit]

Gardner began his career in New Hampshire politics as a state representative and was elected Secretary of State in 1976 by the state legislature. He has been kept in office by both Democratic and Republican legislatures since then. After the November 2018 election, he was narrowly re-elected over Colin Van Ostern in a vote on December 5, 2018.[2]

A strong supporter of New Hampshire's standing as the 'first in the nation' primary state, Gardner wrote Why New Hampshire with the late former Governor Hugh Gregg in October 2003, detailing the history and significance of the New Hampshire primary. He also appears in Winning New Hampshire, released in 2004. As New Hampshire's Secretary of State, he described the principal charge as "protecting the sanctity of New Hampshire’s status as first to hold a full-fledged primary".[3]

Gardner participated in President Donald Trump's voter fraud commission, which was set up by Trump in the wake of Trump's unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in the 2016 election.[2] Gardner has been criticized for legitimizing the commission, which failed to find evidence of substantial voter fraud.[2][4][5] At his opening address for the commission, Gardner called for an analysis of the value of photo ID laws in improving public confidence in elections.[4]

Gardner supported a New Hampshire law which imposed stricter residency requirements for out-of-state students to vote in New Hampshire.[2] The law was later blocked in court.[2] In 2017, Gardner criticized Trump's unsubstantiated claim that out-of-state voters were being bused into New Hampshire to vote.[2]


  1. ^ DeWitt, Ethan (2018-03-13). "Van Ostern trying to unseat Bill Gardner as N.H. Secretary of State". Concord Monitor. Retrieved 2018-11-25.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner wins re-election after fierce challenge". Retrieved March 29, 2019.
  3. ^ Nagourney, Adam (2007-09-06). "Defender of New Hampshire's Primary Stays Firm". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-07-22.
  4. ^ a b McDermott, Casey. "At First Election Commission Meeting, Gardner Focuses on Public Trust, Voter ID Laws". Retrieved 2018-12-05.
  5. ^ Staff, NHPR. "Bill Gardner Hangs On As N.H. Secretary Of State By Slimmest Of Margins". Retrieved 2018-12-05.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Ed Kelly
Secretary of State of New Hampshire