Federal judge: New Hampshire’s new voter residency requirements can remain

By Sarah Downey | The Center Square

A federal judge has ruled that a Republican-backed law on voter residency can remain in place, while also asking the state Supreme Court to provide guidance on how the statute can be applied.

The American Civil Liberties Union and state Democratic Party had sought an injunction of House Bill 1264, a 2018 law that reclassified how residency is defined in New Hampshire.

In the first of two rulings, Judge Joseph Laplante said the plaintiffs had failed to show the law was sufficiently confusing to merit injunction. No witnesses provided evidence of the confusion the plaintiffs claimed.

“Notably, the plaintiffs produced no witnesses stating that confusion regarding HB 1264 has led them to decide not to register to vote,” Laplante wrote. “Indeed, all of the witnesses who testified that they currently have out-of-state licenses also testified that they are registered to vote in New Hampshire.”

In the other ruling, Laplante recommended that the New Hampshire Supreme Court clarify several aspects of how HB 1264 will work when put into practice, after which he would be able to gauge whether the law is constitutional.

In a 3-2 vote, the court already has declared the law constitutional, with the majority saying it would not create an undue burden on new residents.

Laplante cited questions about how the law will work in conjunction with the state’s election rules and its motor vehicle code.

The ACLU filed its case earlier this year on behalf of two Dartmouth College students who claim the law represented an undue burden by requiring they get a state driver’s license at a cost of about $50.

In defense of the law, the attorneys for the state have argued the law is intended to bring New Hampshire’s residency definition in line with that of other states.

In his ruling last week, Laplante found that “state officials have been slow to provide detailed guidance,” but that a recent letter from the attorney general, secretary of state and commissioner of safety “clarifies the State’s interpretation of New Hampshire law after the statutory changes.”

“Given this clarification,” the judge continued, “the plaintiffs have failed to show that they are likely to succeed on the merits of their confusion-based claims.”

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7 thoughts on “Federal judge: New Hampshire’s new voter residency requirements can remain

  1. And in VT Condos has things just the way he & his cabal want them. Fraudulent voter rolls? Nah! No there there.

  2. I don’t see a problem. If these folks wish to exercise their constitutional right to vote, someone should tell them there is a a process call ” absentee ballot”.

  3. A daughter and son-in-law live in NH…they see an overabundance of out-of-state license plates on each election day…looks like the state is finally realizing how their state is incrementally being stolen by the deeply dishonest Democrats burrowing their way into voting rolls…and its happened in Maine and VT also.

    Resulting in these types of assaults on our democracies conducted by those who prefer the tyranny of the minority and resultant mob rule:

  4. When I was in the legislature during the Dean Administration the Local Government Committee took a look at Vermont residency laws for voting purposes. In taking testimony we learned that a person in a city, say Burlington, could walk into the city clerks office and say his or her residency was a park bench in town hall or on a 3rd floor in a parking garage and could register to vote. With same day voter registration that can now be done on election day.

    I’m glad to see NH. challenging the residency laws for voting and here is why. College students in NH. are crying foul but consider this. Out of state college students march down to local voting stations and vote on every issue, local, state and federal. Many of those students will graduate or leave the state/town or city in 180 days or less. However, local residents in the town/state where they voted are stuck living with their voting decisions for many years to come. Is it right that non-resident students vote on local school and town budgets or local official races etc. then leave in 180 days? The impacts of their votes linger for a great deal longer.

    If college non-resident students think voting is so important than they can call, write or email their home town clerk or state official and request an absentee ballot or become a resident of the state they are currently living in. I assume they are in college because they have some intelligence skills and they certainly would be able to research how to obtain an absentee ballot from their home state or town. People cry, “what if the person forgets to get an absentee ballot from their resident state .” My answer is “Oh well…”. Voting should not be taken lightly and with all the media and information at their finger tips students definitely know an election is coming up.

    No one is denying the NH non-resident college students from voting. They just need to do a little planning ahead and get absentee ballots and vote in their state of residency. All three of our children went to college and all three made sure they got absentee ballots ahead of time if they were not coming home. They took voting seriously and as adults they still do.

    The people who really object to this residency law are primarily political activists who plan on getting youth and others riled up about an issue and bus them to the polls. That’s the same reason political activists fought to pass same day voter registration. Do we want people stirred into voting at the last minute by special interest groups trying to get their agenda item passed? Too, many last minute voters aren’t even sure of the issues or what they are voting on except for the issue that got them excited enough to vote. If you really take voting seriously then you will take the time to know the issues and take time to learn what you have to do to make sure you can vote.

    College students have no problem figuring out how to get to a local bar or party 10 miles from campus or how to plan ahead to purchase a bus or plane ticket to get to spring break. They really shouldn’t have an issue with figuring out how to obtain and absentee ballot from their their state of residency.

    • John,

      A great comment.
      Some adult thinking.

      Democrats highjacking the democratic process, such as same day registration, is a travesty.

      Some Democrats, such as Socialist/Communist Sanders (with 3 houses and a $70,000 Audie), want to drive jailed convicts and illegal aliens to the polls to get their votes and pad their numbers and gain VETO-PROOF control..

      Some clowns, hyped up about some issue, can be put on a bus, cross state lines, and register to vote, using false IDs, and QUICKLY, WITHOUT ANY PRIOR WARNING, upset the local political balance of the permanent residents, who likely would not have passed the issue.

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