New Hampshire Governor Signs Law That Voting Groups Call De-Facto Poll Tax

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a measure into legislation on Friday tweaking the definition of who can vote within the state, a transfer that voting rights teams strongly oppose.

Sununu’s choice to signal the invoice comes greater than a 12 months after President Donald Trump claimed he misplaced New Hampshire in the 2016 election as a result of unlawful voters had been bused in from out of state. Election officers investigated that declare and debunked it, however Republicans say the state wants legal guidelines to enhance voter confidence in elections.

Under New Hampshire legislation, voters within the state solely have to be “domiciled” there, which means they’ve a steady bodily presence in New Hampshire and intend to keep up it there. A resident, by legislation, intends to stay in New Hampshire “for the indefinite future.”

The measure Sununu signed Friday tweaks the definition of resident to take away the phrase “for the indefinite future.” That signifies that being domiciled and being a resident of the state, for authorized functions, shall be thought of the identical factor.

Voting rights teams mentioned that change would disenfranchise sure voters as a result of New Hampshire residents are required to do sure issues, like get a driver’s license within the state and register their automobiles there. The charges related to these duties, the teams mentioned, quantity to a de-facto “poll tax” that will discourage school college students, medical residents and different folks dwelling within the state from voting there. Anyone who doesn’t abide by the necessities for residents may face a misdemeanor cost.

The measure will take impact on July 1, 2019.

New Hampshire Republicans mentioned the present definitions had been inconsistent, and the modifications would deliver New Hampshire in keeping with different states. The New Hampshire Supreme Court mentioned Three-2 in an advisory opinion on Thursday that the legislation was constitutional.

“Currently, an individual who is domiciled in this state, but who does not have any real intention of making New Hampshire their home, may vote in our elections while avoiding the obligations that all other residents must meet,” Sununu wrote in an op-ed within the Concord Monitor on Friday. “HB 1264 will put every voter on an equal footing by making all those who vote in New Hampshire subject to the same legal requirements.”

The three-justice majority on the state Supreme Court dismissed the suggestion that requiring voters within the state to register their vehicles and get driver’s licenses amounted to a ballot tax.

“If, while here, such persons come to regard New Hampshire as ‘home’ and establish sufficient attachment to the state to satisfy the requirements of domicile, then they will be entitled to vote here. But if New Hampshire does become their domicile, they also will incur the same obligations of state citizenship as are imposed on all other residents of the state,” they wrote.  “On the other hand, if such persons regard some other place as home and choose to maintain their domicile there, then that place, rather than New Hampshire, is where they must vote, but they also may not then be obligated to obtain a New Hampshire license in order to drive, or to register their motor vehicle in this state.”

“There is nothing unfair or unconstitutional about state laws that require persons to make this choice.”

Last 12 months, Sununu publicly advised he had reservations in regards to the invoice and activists urged him to veto it. After he signed the invoice on Friday, they accused him of going again on his phrase.

“Governor Sununu committed multiple times to vetoing this harmful piece of legislation that undermines the fundamental right of every inhabitant of our state to vote,” Liz Wester, the New Hampshire state director for America Votes, mentioned in a press release. “Governor Sununu said he would ‘never support anything that suppress[es] the student vote.’ It is now clear that the governor never intended to keep the promise he made that day and has turned his back on young people in this state at a time when New Hampshire needs young people more than ever.”

Gilles Bissonnette, the authorized director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, which opposed the invoice, mentioned it was improper for the state Supreme Court to have issued an advisory opinion on the legislation without a specific factual record to base its reasoning on. The two justices who dissented from the courtroom’s advisory opinion raised an analogous problem.

Bissonnette mentioned the ACLU was contemplating a authorized problem to the measure.

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