Gov. Chris Sununu says he still has deep concerns over a bill to make voting an effective declaration of residency. But resolving them could come down to the state Supreme Court. In a late agenda item submitted ahead of Wednesday’s Executive Council meeting, Sununu requested that the court weigh in on the constitutionality of House Bill 1264, a proposal to merge the definitions of “domicile” and “residency” for the purposes of voting. The move, anticipated last week, would ask that the court weigh in on whether the controversial bill would violate the state or federal constitutions. But it will need Executive Council approval to move ahead to the Supreme Court clerk’s desk.
Under present New Hampshire law, those who are “domiciled” may vote, a status defined as one who has “established a physical presence” in the state “more than any other place.” By merging the definition of domicile with residency, HB 1264 would make voting an effective declaration of residency, which carries additional responsibilities.
While supporters say the bill is meant to clear confusion, critics have pointed to college students and transient workers who rely on the “domicile” status to vote. Making them de facto residents would put them on the hook for vehicle registration and driver’s license fees, amounting to an effective “poll tax,” opponents say.