The New Hampshire Supreme Court Friday unanimously struck down a 2012 state law that required voters be state residents, not just domiciled here, in order to vote. “Today’s ruling acknowledges that elections should be free, fair and accessible to all people in a democracy,” said Gilles Bissonnette, of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire (ACLU-NH). The state had appealed two lower court decisions that ruled in favor of four voters and the League of Women Voters who claimed the law violated the state constitution. “We’re reviewing the decision,” said Assistant Attorney General Stephen G. LaBonte, who represented the state. “We have no comment at this time.”
In June 2012, the Legislature, overriding Gov. John Lynch’s veto, passed Senate Bill 318, which required people registering to vote to sign an affidavit agreeing they were subject to the state’s residency laws, “including laws requiring a driver to register a motor vehicle and apply for a New Hampshire driver’s license within 60 days of becoming a resident.”
The ACLU argued the language of the law regarding residency and domicile was confusing. The distinction matters because the definition of “resident” is very strict, requiring a person to intend to live in the state for the “indefinite future.”
The ACLU contended imposing a “residency” condition on the right to vote would disenfranchise college students living in New Hampshire, a Manchester executive intending to retire in Florida, a medical resident living here while completing her hospital training, or a member of the U.S. Navy who lives in Portsmouth but knows she will be transferred somewhere else in two years.
Full Article: Court Strikes Down New Hampshire’s Voter Residency Law.