A New Hampshire law that will make residency a condition of voting in the state unconstitutionally restricts students’ right to vote, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday in a lawsuit. Under current law, New Hampshire is the only state that doesn’t require residency. The federal lawsuit filed against Secretary of State William Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald was brought on behalf of two Dartmouth College students. They say the law, which takes effect July 1, burdens their right to vote by requiring new voters to shift their home state driver’s licenses and registrations to New Hampshire. “Under this law, I have to pay to change my California license to be a New Hampshire one,” one of the students, Maggie Flaherty, said in a statement. “If I vote and don’t change my license within 60 days, I could even be charged with a misdemeanor offense with up to one year in jail.
“Make no mistake — this is meant to deter young people from participating in our elections, and students are an important voting bloc here,” Flaherty said of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary state.
Gardner said he sees the issue as “everyone who votes ought to vote under the same standards. There should not be different classes of voters.”
The current law allows college students and others to vote who consider the state their “domicile,” that is, counting the state as their place of residence “more than any other place.” That doesn’t carry the requirements of “residency,” which has people get driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations if they are staying “for the indefinite future,” language that’s no longer in the new law.