A lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday alleges Michigan’s election laws purposefully try to confuse and disenfranchise young, college-aged voters. College Democrats at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Bureau of Elections Director Sally Williams claiming the state’s youngest voters are “particularly vulnerable to restrictive voting laws and uniquely susceptible to voter confusion.” The suit claims Michigan’s laws violate the First, Fourteenth and Twenty-Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution and will presumably seek relief from these two come Nov. 6: “Rogers’ Law,” which requires a citizen vote where their driver’s license lists their address, as well as a law requiring first-time voters to vote in person, meaning they can’t participate in early or absentee voting.
More than a dozen lawyers are setting up shop in the Hillsborough Superior Court-North in Manchester for the next two weeks for the preliminary injunction hearing on the controversial voter residency law commonly known as SB 3. Judge Kenneth Brown is being asked to stop the law from taking effect until after the lawsuit against the state — brought by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters, and some individual voters — is decided in court. This could mean the law, which critics claim will dampen college voter turnout, will not be in effect for the November midterm election. Numerous witnesses are expected to testify, and the state is seeking to dig into the New Hampshire Democratic Party’s budget as part of the proceedings. Lucas Meyer, the president of the New Hampshire Young Democrats, testified Monday the state party has budgeted $150,000 to $250,000 for voter education in the wake of SB 3’s passage.
New Hampshire: State makes it tougher for students to vote. Democrats call it ‘devious’ suppression. | NBC
New Hampshire Democrats are hoping to turn the November midterm elections into a referendum on a new law barring part-time residents from voting in the state. Last week, Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, signed into law House Bill 1264, requiring students and other part-time residents to become permanent residents of the state if they want to vote. Currently, students must show they are “domiciled” in the state when they register to vote. The new law will force permanent residents to comply with laws such as state motor vehicle registration. Students with cars, for example, would have to pay for a new, in-state driver’s license and register their cars in the state, a cost critics argue could deter the historically Democratic voting bloc from the ballot box. “It’s a poll tax,” said Garrett Muscatel, a Dartmouth College student and candidate for state representative.
Editorials: New Hampshire’s new poll tax: Just because a law is deemed constitutional doesn’t make it right | Keene Sentinel
Armed with a Supreme Court opinion, Gov. Chris Sununu quickly signed into law House Bill 1264 Friday, much to the consternation of those opposed to the voter-obstruction attempt. The new law is a bad one, regardless of what a 3-2 majority of the court found. It’s a cynical attempt to throw hurdles in front of those attending New Hampshire colleges, but who hail from out of state, and little more. That doesn’t mean it will affect only those students; other groups will also soon find themselves burdened with having to produce a state driver’s license or auto registration in order to cast New Hampshire ballots. They include military personnel stationed here; seasonal workers or those on temporary assignment; per-diem nurses and other fill-in health workers; and anyone rightfully living in the state while on a contract. As the court’s majority itself noted, even a town or city manager serving a limited term might be deemed “not a resident” and therefore not eligible to vote if he or she didn’t profess an intent to remain in the state permanently.
On Friday, New Hampshire Republican Gov. Chris Sununu transformed his state into ground zero in the assault on voting rights. By signing HB 1264 into law, Sununu effectively imposed a poll tax on college students, compelling many of them to pay hundreds of dollars in fees to establish residence in the state before they’re permitted to vote in New Hampshire. Once it takes effect, the law is almost certain to chill the franchise of younger Democratic-leaning voters—to an extent that could swing the state’s famously close elections. But the measure’s stringent new requirements do not kick in until July 2019, giving Democrats a single opportunity to repeal it before it disenfranchises a key portion of their base. In New Hampshire, the November midterm elections won’t just determine control of the state government. It will decide whether Republicans will be successful in their years-long quest to suppress the college vote, a move that would help them further entrench their own political power. HB 1264 is the latest and most sweeping voter suppression bill passed by New Hampshire Republicans in the wake of the 2016 election. Hillary Clinton carried the state by a slim margin, as did Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, who defeated incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte by about 1,000 votes. At the same time, Republicans retook the governorship and maintained control of the Legislature, giving them total control of the state government. They used that power to begin restricting access to the ballot under the pretext of preventing voter fraud.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu reversed course Friday and signed a bill imposing residency requirements on out-of-state college students who vote in New Hampshire. Current law allows students and others who consider the state their domicile to vote without being subject to residency requirements, such as getting a New Hampshire driver’s license or registering their cars. Lawmakers passed a bill this year to end the distinction between domicile and residency, but Sununu delayed action on it and asked the state Supreme Court to weigh in. The court issued a 3-2 advisory opinion Thursday saying the bill was constitutional. “House Bill 1264 restores equality and fairness to our elections,” Sununu said. “Finally, every person who votes in New Hampshire will be treated the same. This is the essence of an equal right to vote.”
New Hampshire: State Supreme Court upholds constitutionality of voter residency bill | Concord Monitor
A fiercely contested bill to make residency a condition of voting in New Hampshire was determined by the state Supreme Court to be constitutional Thursday, in a major ruling that clears its approval by Gov. Chris Sununu. In a 3-2 ruling, the court found that the bill, House Bill 1264, is not a burden on the right to vote, but rather a means to better organize state laws “in order to place voters and residents on equal footing as New Hampshire citizens.” The court’s decision, which came without warning, now sets up a high-stakes choice for Sununu. On Thursday afternoon, hours after the court weighed in, the bill passed from Senate President Chuck Morse’s desk over to the governor’s office. That set in motion a constitutionally mandated five-day countdown; Sununu must decide by Tuesday whether to veto, sign or let pass without signature a law he has taken varying positions on in the last seven months. In a terse statement Thursday, Sununu declined to show his cards.
Gov. Rick Scott’s administration fired back in federal court Friday, seeking to undercut a League of Women Voters lawsuit over early voting on college campuses. The League last month sued Scott’s chief elections official, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, whose office in 2014 interpreted state law to exclude state university buildings from a list of sites available for early voting. Florida allows early voting at elections offices, city halls, libraries, fairgrounds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums, convention centers, government-owned senior centers and government-owned community centers. But buildings on state college and university campuses? No. Democrats tried to include them as early voting sites, but Republicans blocked the proposal.
A long-running court dispute over a controversial election reform law just got longer with the presiding judge deciding Friday to disqualify himself due to a close, personal relationship with one of the state’s lawyers. The ruling throws yet another controversy at this court battle pitting the League of Women Voters and the New Hampshire Democratic Party against Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who is defending a law meant to require voters show proof at the polls or after the election that they actually live or are domiciled in New Hampshire. Critics maintain the law known as SB 3 is meant to discourage college students, low-income and minority citizens from taking advantage of New Hampshire’s easy requirements to cast a ballot in the state.
State leaders want to stop three college professors from testifying in the SB 3 lawsuit, and protect two state attorneys from having to give testimony, in ongoing litigation over the law aimed at halting voter fraud. In motions filed with the Hillsborough Superior Court in Nashua, attorneys for New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office and the New Hampshire Secretary of State’s Office ask the court to keep the three professors from testifying. The state is being sued by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the League of Women Voters, and individual voters of SB 3, which introduced possible criminal penalties for people who register to vote on election day, but fail to file all the newly required paperwork within a given time period. The plaintiffs claim the law is aimed at keeping college students, and the poor from registering to vote in New Hampshire.