On June 21, 2022, the ACLU of New Hampshire filed a lawsuit in New Hampshire Superior Court challenging SB 418, a newly-enacted bill that would unconstitutionally diminish the secrecy of ballots and tie voter’s names to the candidates and issues for which they voted on their ballot.

As argued in the lawsuit, the government should not know who you cast your ballot for in a state election – that’s why SB 418 is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to privacy.  This bill would diminish ballot secrecy and create an avenue to tie names to ballots, which is unacceptable in a free and fair democracy. Voting is one of the most important democratic things a person can do, and they deserve to do so privately and secretly.

According to the lawsuit, SB 418 is the most recent effort by legislators in Concord to place unnecessary roadblocks and burdens in front of New Hampshire voters in the guise of maintaining “voter confidence,” even though voter fraud is remarkably rare in New Hampshire and in the United States.

New Hampshire’s elections continue to be safe, secure, and reliable—with zero prosecutions brought from the September and November 2020 elections. Even before SB 418 was enacted, there was a robust process in place to ensure only qualified people could vote, including the requirement that all voters present proof of identity or sign an affidavit attesting to their identity, as well as follow-up investigations in lieu of documents.

SB 418 creates an entirely new voting process for people who are registering to vote for the first time in New Hampshire on Election Day and who do not have acceptable photo identification. Under the bill, they will be given a newly-created “affidavit ballot.” Their vote will be counted on Election Day, but if they do not return the proof of identity within seven days, their specific ballot will be retrieved, read, and information sent back to the Secretary of State’s office. Their votes would then be deducted from the voted total for each affected candidate or issue.

Additionally, between postage fees, materials, and overtime pay, at least hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars, in addition to staff time, would be spent implementing this unnecessary bill.

Attorney(s)

Gilles Bissonnette, ACLU-NH Legal Director, and Henry Klementowicz, ACLU-NH Senior Staff Attorney

Date filed

June 21, 2022

Court

Hillsborough (South) Superior Court

Status

Pending

Case number

226-2022-CV-00236