One of two controversial bills to change the definition of “domicile” for voting purposes cleared a Senate committee Tuesday, heading to the Senate floor next for a make-or-break vote. In a 3-2, party-line vote, members of the Senate election law committee voted to recommend the bill, House Bill 1264, be passed by the full chamber. The bill would merge the definitions of “domiciled” people and “residents” for the purpose of voting, which supporters say will clear up confusion and bring New Hampshire’s process in line with other states. Democrats and other critics, meanwhile, say that combining the definitions will require those who vote to be residents, subjecting college students and other temporary residents to car registration fees and driver’s license requirements. Currently, voters are required only to be “domiciled,” meaning they spend a majority of their time in the state; adding residency could create a de facto poll tax in registration fees, critics allege.
Ahead of the vote, discussion followed familiar lines.
Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, D-Whitefield, declined to mince words, calling the bill “a sly, cynical plot to really put a stink bomb in our process.”
The measure would discourage New Hampshire’s college students from voting, and impose financial penalties on those who do, he argued. “I just feel this sends the absolute wrong message,” he said.