[JURIST] A judge of the New Hampshire Superior Court [official court] on Tuesday blocked [order, PDF] SB 3 [materials], a New Hampshire law that would have potentially imposed a fine or potential jail time if voters did not submit proof of residence within 10 days of registering to vote. The bill, which was signed into law on July 10, applied to first-time voters who sought to register to vote 30 days before a scheduled election. Failing to provide the requisite proof could result in penalties of $5,000 and a year in prison. The court noted that these penalties would serve as a “very serious deterrent on the right to vote, and if there is indeed a ‘compelling’ need for them, the Court has yet to see it.” While the court blocked these penalties from going into effect, the remainder of the bill, that is the proof of residency requirement, will take effect as intended.
Voting rights and how voters are grouped and counted has become and increasingly important issue over the past year. In June the US Supreme Court agreed [JURIST report] to hear a Wisconsin gerrymandering case. Earlier in June the Supreme Court affirmed [JURIST report] a lower court decision striking down a North Carolina state House and Senate redistricting effort as racial gerrymandering that disproportionately impacted black voters. In May the Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] in Cooper v. Harris [SCOTUSblog materials] that North Carolina’s redistricting of Districts 1 and 12 was unconstitutional because the state “made no attempt to justify race-based districting there.” In January the Department of Justice sued [JURIST report] Detroit suburbs over a potential Voting Rights Act violation regarding the ability of minorities to elect other minority members as council members. In April of last year the Supreme Court unanimously upheld [JURIST report] an Arizona commission’s decisions regarding the redistricting of voting districts in the state.