This suit challenges the New Hampshire law which would freeze out students and other mobile domiciliaries from federal and state elections. The law would require those registering to vote to sign an affidavit agreeing that they are subject to the state’s residency laws—including laws mandating them to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license and to register their vehicle in New Hampshire. The registration form attempts to impose onerous and financially burdensome residency requirements as a condition for voting that conflict with the fact that one need only be “domiciled” in New Hampshire under current state law to vote. The Plaintiffs’ Second Amended Petition is here.
On September 24, 2012, the Strafford County Superior Court preliminarily enjoined the usage of this affidavit language codified by statute, holding that this language “does not pass constitutional muster, and hinders educational efforts related to the election pertaining to qualifications for registering to vote.” The Court added that the language advances a “confusing expression of the law to be considered by … those prospective voters in the position of the four student petitioners, that is, non-resident persons who otherwise qualify to vote and would not like to register and/or proceed to exercise their voting rights without feeling they are subjecting themselves … to residency law obligations.” The Superior Court’s decision can be found here.
On March 14, 2014, the ACLU-NH filed a motion for summary judgment asking the Superior Court to issue a final, permanent declaratory judgment holding that this law is unconstitutional. That motion can be found here. On July 24, 2014, the Strafford County Superior Court issued an order striking down this law as unconstitutional. In its decision, the court correctly called the added language “a confusing and unreasonable description of the law” that imposed a chilling effect on the right to vote of those domiciled here. The State appealed this decision to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
On May 15, 2015, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed and struck down the law. The Court concluded: "Because the challenged language is confusing and inaccurate, and because, as the trial court found, it could cause an otherwise qualified voter not to register to vote in New Hampshire, we hold that, as a matter of law, the burden it imposes upon the fundamental right to vote is unreasonable."
Cooperating Attorneys: Alan J. Cronheim of Sisti Law Offices; William E. Christie and Benjamin Siracusa Hillman of Shaheen & Gordon, P.A.