The state has been blocked from using new voter registration forms and affidavits set out in the controversial 2017 law known as Senate Bill 3 in the upcoming election by a court ruling that called the law burdensome, confusing and likely to create long lines at voting places. Superior Court Judge Kenneth Brown on Monday issued a preliminary injunction halting the state from moving forward with the provisions of the law, which was challenged shortly after it was signed last year by Gov. Chris Sununu. Brown ruled that “the burdens imposed by SB 3 are unreasonable and discriminatory.” The ruling, which was issued 15 days before the midterm election, was in favor of the plaintiffs: the League of Women Voters, the New Hampshire Democratic Party and several voters. The court said the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits after a full-blown trial, which is expected to be held next year.
The court ruled that the Secretary of State’s office must ensure that local election officials use the 2016 domicile affidavit in the upcoming election, rather than the affidavit called for in the law. Under an earlier preliminary ruling, the state was allowed to use the forms in the September primary, but was forbidden from enforcing the penalties for those who violated the law.
Secretary of State William Gardner told WMUR on Monday night that he and officials of the Attorney General’s will be addressing the ramifications of the order immediately.
“At this point, we don’t have a clear understanding of what needs to be done. We’re trying to understand it and at this point we don’t have a clear understanding of what it actually requires.” He said that “no issues” were created by the use of the new affidavit in the September primary and the 2017 municipal elections.