A late amendment to a bill that would limit voting to New Hampshire residents passed a Senate committee Tuesday, setting the stage for a new political battle in the Legislature next session over voting requirements. The proposed change would require residency in the state, setting a higher bar for eligibility than present election law, which requires only that voters be “domiciled.” Democrats were quick to condemn the move, calling it an attempt to suppress voting that would effectively target college students. Under current law, being domiciled means physically occupying a space in the state “more than any other place.” Residency carries stronger burdens of proof, such as utility bills or rental, and one of the consequences of declaring residency is that new residents must register their cars in New Hampshire and get state-issued driver’s licenses.
New Hampshire: Who Gets to Claim a Stake in New Hampshire Elections? Untangling a Question at the Heart of ‘Domicile’ Debate | New Hampshire Public Radio
Curtis Moore has voted in New Hampshire since 2008. He says he’s got a New Hampshire driver’s license and a New Hampshire mailing address in the town of Randolph — where he’s worked off and on for the Randolph and Appalachian Mountain Clubs for nearly two decades. As far as he can recall, registering to vote here in the first place was pretty simple. “I just went to the town clerk and gave her an address,” Moore says. “I think I did have a New Hampshire license at the time that maybe she looked at. Maybe not.” Either way, he says, “I had a couple of things for proof.” Right now, though, Moore’s not in New Hampshire. In fact, he spends very little time in the state these days. “When I initially became a New Hampshire resident, it was probably close to 50 percent of the year,” Moore says. “Now, it’s probably more like 10 percent — or maybe even less. It’s dwindled with time.” Moore’s line of work takes him all over the place. Right now, he’s in New Zealand, but he plans to be back in the summer.
Tackling a handful of bills aimed at expanding or restrict voter eligibility, the New Hampshire House on Wednesday approved a 10-day residency requirement for new voters. The bill, which now goes to the Senate, would require voters to be domiciled in the state for 10 days before an election. It also would change the definition of domicile to exclude those who are in the state temporarily or don’t intend to make it their home.