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State High Court Weighs In On New Residency Law

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that anyone – including college students – who lives in the state for at least six months a year, and drives their own vehicle during that time, needs to comply with New Hampshire licensing and registration requirements.

The ruling comes as part of an ongoing federal court case over voting rights. The state court was asked to get involved in the case to settle a series of questions about how a new residency law might affect voting and vehicle licensing in New Hampshire.

The ACLU of New Hampshire – which opposes the new residency law – and the state attorneys defending it had been unable to agree on fundamental facts about what the law actually changed. 

While Wednesday's unanimous ruling from the state court did provide a clear explanation of how voting and vehicle residency rules interact, this decision did not say whether the residency law could stand or should be struck down. That question is still up to a federal judge to decide.

Casey McDermott is an editor and reporter at New Hampshire Public Radio, where she works with colleagues across the newsroom to deepen the station’s accountability coverage, data journalism and audience engagement across platforms.

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