N.H. Supreme Court OKs new congressional map; candidate filing period opens Wednesday
Most New Hampshire voters will see no change to their current congressional districts this fall, after the state’s high court approved a new map that makes only minor modifications to existing district lines.
The New Hampshire Supreme Court unanimously approved a new map after hearing oral arguments in a redistricting case Tuesday morning, less than a day before the candidate filing window for this fall’s elections opens.
The map approved by the court uses a “least change” approach, moving just five towns —Jackson, Albany, Sandwich, Campton and New Hampton — from the 1st District into the 2nd District in order to achieve a balanced population.
The court’s involvement in the redistricting process comes amid an impasse between Gov. Chris Sununu and the Legislature over the plan for the state’s congressional districts. Sununu vetoed two maps approved by Republican lawmakers last week. The court stepped in to ensure New Hampshire’s congressional map is constitutionally sound, based on updated population figures from the 2020 census.
During arguments Tuesday morning, John Devaney, an attorney representing the parties challenging the current maps urged the court to “adopt a map today” in order to prevent any confusion surrounding the candidate filing period, which is slated to run from June 1 through June 10.
About two hours after arguments concluded, the court released a unanimous order that implements a map drawn by Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford Law School professor who was appointed by the court.
Devaney noted that “the special master made it very clear that he did not consider political data or partisan factors in drawing the districts.”
Maps passed by Republican lawmakers this session would have dramatically shifted the districts and given their party’s candidates a boost in the 1st District. One of those maps would have moved Manchester and other communities into the 2nd District, in the process placing both Democratic incumbents — Congresswoman Annie Kuster and Congressman Chris Pappas — in the same district.
Sununu rejected that map, as well as a previous proposal, saying they weren’t fair.
Kuster has won five consecutive elections in the 2nd District, which covers the western portion of the state, as well as the North Country, Concord and Nashua.
The 1st District, which includes Manchester and the southeastern portion of the state, has been competitive for much of the past two decades, frequently changing hands between the two parties. Pappas has won the previous two races, and is seeking a third term.