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Judge Orders State To Offer New Voter Registration Forms

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A Strafford County judge says the Secretary of State must change voter registration forms before November’s election. 

The New Hampshire League of Women Voters and four college students sued the state after it released registration forms that seemed to say voters had to meet residency requirements.  But under state law, people who spend most of their time here for a defined period, like college students and military personnel, can vote without becoming residents.  League Election Law Specialist Joan Flood Ashwell says she’s pleased with the ruling.

“The judge agreed with the students and with the voting rights groups that the new paragraph on the voter registration form was confusing and misleading," Ashwell says.  "So what the judge has ordered is that new registration forms be issued without that paragraph in it.”       

The Republican-run legislature authorized the new language over Governor John Lynch’s veto this summer.  House Speaker Bill O’Brien released a statement in response to the ruling Monday afternoon.  In it, he notes, “Merely being in New Hampshire does not give a person a right to vote.” 

He adds, “To say there are two classes of voters—all of us who reside in New Hampshire, and those residents of other states who choose to vote here because we are a battleground state—is judicial activism of the worst sort.” 

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