Concord, NH – This morning the New Hampshire House of Representatives considered three measures to block constitutionally eligible voters from accessing the ballot; it blocked one and passed the other two. The House defeated a constitutional amendment (CACR 17) that would have changed who was eligible to vote in New Hampshire, while it passed a bill (HB 1313) which deprives constitutionally eligible voters their right to access the polls by imposing a waiting period to vote. The House passed another bill (HB 1483) which allows New Hampshire to join a flawed voter crosscheck system that threatens to purge eligible voters from the roles.
CACR 17 failed to get the two thirds majority needed for passage to constitutionally require voters to have an “indefinite intent to remain” in New Hampshire. This amendment would have disenfranchised community members such as medical doctors serving out their residency at NH hospitals or business leaders serving out a multi-year contract in our state. Moreover, it would have violated the federal Constitution (Newburger v. Peterson 1972).
With the passage of HB 1313, the House imposed an unconstitutional 10-day waiting period to vote without any legitimate justification (Dunn v. Blumstein 1972). Under the bill a high school teacher who moves from Kittery to Portsmouth in late August would be prohibited from voting in a September primary in Portsmouth where she now lives if that primary occurs within 10 days of her move. While there are states that have similar durational requirements, the vast majority of those do not have same day voter registration as New Hampshire. In Maine, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court rejected a durational waiting requirement because of Maine’s same-day registration. Thus, the Court held that there was no administrative need for such a waiting period. The same is true in New Hampshire.
Finally, the House passed HB 1483, which would allow New Hampshire to join an Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck—program which would threaten to purge numerous constitutionally eligible voters from the rolls. A number of states, including Florida, Washington, and Oregon have already dropped out of this program for its untrustworthiness.
“As the First-In-the-Nation-Primary, New Hampshire should be focused on making voting more accessible and more secure,” said Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, “including establishing on-line voter registration and by providing local polling officials with the training and support that they need. Unfortunately, many of the bills considered and passed by the New Hampshire House this morning do the opposite. They create additional hurdles for voters, while doing little to increase the integrity of our election system.”