New Hampshire court strikes down GOP's law that aimed to suppress Dem-leaning college student voters
In a victory against Republican-backed voter suppression in a key swing state, a New Hampshire state court struck down a law the GOP had passed in 2017 to impose additional residency restrictions on voters that was crafted to suppress the votes of Democratic-leaning college students after Republicans narrowly lost the 2016 presidential and Senate races yet gained full control of state government. This law had required voters who had registered within 30 days of an election to show additional documentation that they indeed lived day-to-day at the residence they claimed as their “domicile” and intended to do so long-term.
Voters who had lacked suitable documentation would have been be able to cast provisional ballots, but they’d still have had to provide documents proving their residency meets the state’s new requirements at a later date. If they hadn’t, this law would’ve empowered state election officials to visit their homes and refer them to the office of Secretary of State Bill Gardner, who has had no qualms about backing these restrictions, for potential investigation, which many voters may have found intimidating.
Republicans passed this law after Donald Trump baselessly claimed last year that thousands of illegal voters were bused into New Hampshire to cast ballots, which he falsely asserted cost GOP Sen. Kelly Ayotte re-election in 2016. Despite the fact that this completely bogus conspiracy theory was shot down even by Republicans, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu himself also made the same brazenly fraudulent arguments just prior to the election.
Of course, this law was simply intended to make it more difficult for Democratic-leaning demographics to exercise their right to cast a ballot, like college students and young adults who are more likely to move frequently. Ironically, though, it could also have unintentionally disenfranchised a group that tends to favor Republicans: active-duty military members who happen to be stationed in New Hampshire.
This court ruling is also a major victory for preserving same-day voter registration: Since New Hampshire does not permit early voting, same-day registration is only available on Election Day itself. That means election officials would have had to verify all the extra documents provided by new registrations at the same time they would’ve been conducting what’s shaping up to be a historically high-turnout election, which could’ve led to longer wait times to vote—delays that could’ve further hampered voters.