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New Hampshire judge blocks voter proof of residence law
© WikiMedia (Tom Arthur)
New Hampshire judge blocks voter proof of residence law

A New Hampshire judge on Monday granted an injunction to block a requirement that voters have proof of residence when registering to vote on election day.

The New Hampshire legislature passed the law in 2017, largely along party lines. The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire, who brought the suit, argue that the law is unconstitutional as it would suppress voter turnout by preventing students, the disabled and more transient residents from being able to vote.

The law requires proof of domicile when registering to vote. When registering less than 30 days from election day voters are not required to have the proof with them but are required to sign an affidavit promising to send proof within 10 to 30 days following the election.

The state asserts that the measures under the bill were implemented to ensure only qualified voters were registering and to prevent fraud. However, in the 2016 election, voter fraud was at 0.00013% and was not due to a misused domicile affidavit.

It has been shown that Democrats use same day registration at a significantly higher rate than Republicans. Young voters, highly mobile individuals and those of low socioeconomic status all use same day registration at higher rates. The League of Women Voters argue that this points toward the bill being used to unfairly target certain groups of people.

Additionally, the wording of the affidavit is harder to read and understand than that used in previous elections. An analysis of the affidavit’s text showed that it was harder to read than the Harvard Law Review and at the reading level of a graduate student, while the average US adult reads at an 8th grade level.

A number of college students have reported being confused and intimidated by the forms. These students fear the possibility of fines from not being able to provide adequate proof of domicile to comply with the statute.

The new requirements for registration are also speculated to have a significant impact on wait times at the polls. Increased wait times have been shown to discourage voters and cause them to leave without voting.

This ruling will be in effect for the upcoming midterm elections; polling places in New Hampshire will use the voter registration protocol from 2016.