Newly empowered Democrats are hoping to reverse two recent changes to New Hampshire’s election laws before either fully takes effect. One new law, requiring voters to provide more documentation if they register within 30 days of an election, remains tied up in court. The other, which ends the distinction between full-fledged residents and those claiming the state as their domicile for voting, takes effect July 1. Both passed under Republican-led Legislatures, but Democrats won majorities in both the House and Senate in November, and they are drafting bills to essentially repeal both changes. “I’m trying to put things back the way they were before,” said Rep. Timothy Horrigan, who is sponsoring both bills.
Horrigan, a Democrat, represents Durham, home to the University of New Hampshire. He and other opponents argue that the new laws amount to voter suppression among students who are from other states but attend college in New Hampshire. Previously, such students could declare the state their domicile for voting purposes without becoming residents subject to other requirements, such as registering their cards or getting New Hampshire drivers licenses.
Horrigan said he filed his initial requests for legislation even before the state primary election in September because he was hearing so much about the issue on the campaign trail.
“There’s a lot of anger and frustration in Durham. People who actually live in college towns are very supportive of students voting there,” he said.
But supporters of the new laws argue the old system created two tiers of voters, and that the changes will help restore confidence in elections.