New Hampshire State Court Blocks Part of New Voter Registration Restrictions

On September 12, a Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against part of the New Hampshire voter registration law passed earlier this year. New Hampshire Democratic Party v Gardner, Hillsborough Superior Court, 2017-cv-432. The order is by Justice Charles Temple, a member of the State Supreme Court.

The law says persons who register within 30 days of an election, and who don’t have documents proving that they are domiciled in New Hampshire when they register, must return to the registration office within either 10 days or 30 days (depending on whether their town has full-time hours for voter registration, or not) with the proof. If they don’t return, they are subject to a possible $5,000 fine or even jail time. This part of the law is suspended, pending further court activity. Here is the 13-page decision. Thanks to Rick Hasen for the link.


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New Hampshire State Court Blocks Part of New Voter Registration Restrictions — 1 Comment

  1. It appears that under the old law, that registrations required more documentation of domiciliary than registrations within the last 30 days, including on election day. If before 30 days, a registrant would just be instructed to gather up documentation and return.

    The bill attempts to tighten this up by requiring either documentation of domiciliary, or agreeing to provide documentation within 10/30 days of the election. If someone had established residency, but not bothered to register, they would have a drivers license, lease, tax record, utility bill, etc. to establish that and would have no problem registering on election day.

    The bill also specifies that temporary residency for less than 30 days does not establish domiciliary if for a number of purposes, including electioneering. Currently, because it has election day registration, it is trivial for a college student to travel up from Boston or elsewhere and claim that they now live in New Hampshire and vote in the presidential primary. “I really feel like New Hampshire is home now, they even have Dominos”

    There is a similar practice in Iowa, where only intent to move to Iowa is required in order to participate in caucuses.

    A particular reason that Congress established the uniform election date for presidential elections was to curb the practice of pipelining, where voters could move across state lines to vote in two states.

    The reason the court acted was because New Hampshire had a special election, and they had not had time for a proper hearing. Only 2200 people voted, and there would likely have been few new registrants, since most would have been registered by last November.

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