Strafford County Superior Court Judge John Lewis declared unconstitutional and enjoined a New Hampshire law that directly attacked the voting rights of college students. The statute added a paragraph to the voter registration application strongly implying that applicants were required to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license and register their cars in the state if they registered to vote there. Supporters of the law sought to intimidate and strongly discourage New Hampshire college students who were originally from other states from exercising their right to vote in New Hampshire. The legislature passed SB 318 in June by overriding a veto by Gov. John Lynch.
Lewis stated that the paragraph “advances, as an important feature, an inaccurate and confusing expression of the law” because establishing voting domicile in New Hampshire does not require a person to take the added steps of obtaining a driver’s license and registering a vehicle in the state. He added that language leading applicants to believe incorrectly that establishing voting domicile requires these steps “has a clear harmful effect on the exercise of voting rights and education” about voting.
In clear language asserting the rights of college students to vote in their college community, Lewis added: “Those who by our laws and our constitutions have the fundamental right to vote in New Hampshire must not have that right inappropriately burdened or infringed.”
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