BY: Citizens Count
In 2018 Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 1264, a bill that requires voters in New Hampshire to declare legal residency. Legal residency includes registering any cars in New Hampshire, getting a New Hampshire driver’s license, etc.
Prior to that change, voters only had to declare “domicile” in New Hampshire. Speaking very generally, citizens could vote in whatever town they called home, regardless of their legal residency according to DMV records or tax purposes.
More about the voter residency requirement
Gov. Chris Sununu signed HB 1264 after three of the five state Supreme Court justices gave their opinion that the bill was constitutional. However, that opinion was only advisory, and voters may still bring a lawsuit after HB 1264 goes into effect the summer of 2019.
When HB 1264 goes into effect, voters will not be turned away at the polls just because they aren’t legal residents – but they will only have 60 days after voting to register any car in New Hampshire and get a New Hampshire license.
Arguments to lift the legal residency requirement
Supporters of HB 106, the 2019 bill to repeal the residency requirement, argue that requiring voters to declare legal residency is equivalent to a poll tax, since there are fees to register a car and get a driver’s license.
College students rallied against the residency requirement because so many have cars registered in other towns and cities, even while they consider their college campus their home. They argue the legal residency requirement will be an unfair burden on them and other voters that may choose to keep car registrations and legal residences in other states, for any number of reasons.
Arguments to require legal residency
Opponents of HB 106 point out that every other state requires voters to declare legal residency.
They argue the new voter residency requirements may be inconvenient for some college students, but in no way deprive college students of the right to vote, either in New Hampshire or another state by absentee ballot. Instead, the new requirements ensure all voters in New Hampshire have the same legal commitment to the Granite State.
Do you think New Hampshire should repeal the new law that requires voters to declare legal residency? Let us know in the comments.
Responses to this question will be presented to legislators debating this bill, as part of our 2019 Citizen Voices® campaign. Only responses from NH residents will be counted. Please indicate if you are from NH in your response.