When Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Charles Temple issued a ruling early Tuesday morning blocking the state from enforcing its new voter registration law, Senate Bill 3, he set the stage for a deep review that is expected to take many months to resolve. Temple is a former University of New Hampshire Law professor appointed in 2013 by then-Gov. Maggie Hassan. In the Tuesday order, he denied the state’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit by the state Democratic Party, League of Women Voters and three individual plaintiffs. With a special election for a New Hampshire House seat scheduled for Tuesday, the judge heard arguments on the dismissal motion and the plaintiffs’ attempt to block the law on Monday afternoon, concluding at 4:30 p.m, and then told the attorneys that he’s have a ruling out by 8 a.m. Tuesday.
… His ruling was predictably praised by the state Democratic Party, which called it “a victory for voting rights in New Hampshire” and said it “offers no good news for the state.” The party said the law was “based on the ‘belief’ of voter fraud, rather than any evidence.”
But Senate Bill 3’s chief sponsor, Republican Sen. Regina Birdsell of Hampstead, said she was “pleased” with the decision. “This is just the first step in what we anticipate will be a lengthy process,” she said. “I continue to believe this law will be upheld and will serve to protect the integrity of New Hampshire’s elections now and in the future.”
Whether Birdsell is right on her view of the final disposition of the law remains to be seen. One thing is for certain, though: It will be “a lengthy process.” And it will probably end up being decided by the state Supreme Court.