The New Hampshire House passed a bill Wednesday that requires people to live in the state for 30 days before they are eligible to vote. It passed largely with support from Republicans. Senators passed the bill along party lines earlier this year, but the House bill further defines the factors that contribute to a person’s domicile, including whether someone pays taxes in New Hampshire, owns a hunting license or has a New Hampshire driver’s license. Currently, a person who is “domiciled” in the state can register and vote on the day of an election. Supporters of the House bill said they want to crack down on “drive by” voting and ensure people voting in New Hampshire elections actually live in the state. “This bill will ensure the people of New Hampshire decide our own elections, not out-of-state voters,” said Republican Rep. William Gannon of Sandown.
The difference between “domicile” and “residency” has been a frequent topic of dispute as the Legislature has sought to implement voter identification and other election laws in recent years. At least 15 other states have 30-day residency requirements for voting, and Secretary of State Bill Gardner backs a 30-day residency requirement.
But critics of the House bill say the state shouldn’t put further restrictions on who can vote.
Democratic Rep. Travis Bennett, a college student at Plymouth State University, said the bill could prevent incoming New Hampshire students from voting in primary elections if they move to the state at the start of a new school year. Democratic Rep. Wayne Moynihan expressed similar concerns. “This bill clearly cuts and puts a limit on our citizens’ fundamental right to vote,” he said.