A judge early Tuesday allowed the state to use new voting registration forms and impose new tightened ID requirements as called for in a law passed earlier this year, but blocked the penalties called for in the law from taking effect. Judge Charles Temple ruled that the penalties of $5,000 and a year in jail for fraud outlined in Senate Bill 3 “act as a very serious deterrent on the right to vote, and if there is indeed a ‘compelling’ need for them, the Court has yet to see it.” Temple granted a request by the League of Women Voters and New Hampshire Democratic Party regarding the penalties of Senate Bill 3, but allowed the law to take effect in time for the use of new voting forms in a special New Hampshire House election in Belknap County. Further hearings on the merits of the law will be held at a future date. Read the full order here.
The judge also the New Hampshire Democratic Party standing and said that going forward, it will examine the law under the high standard of “strict scrutiny.”
In a key passage of the 13-page order, Temple wrote: “In the court’s view, at least for the limited purposes of a temporary restraining order, the new civil and criminal penalties established by SB 3 .. are ‘severe’ restrictions on the right to vote.
“Based upon its time-constrained review of the record and the relevant law, the court cannot find that these restrictions are ‘narrowly drawn’ by any stretch of the imagination. There are simply too many unanswered questions at this stage in the litigation.