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Federal Judge Won't Dismiss Challenge To N.H. Voting Law

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Judge Joseph Laplante says a challenge to New Hampshire's new voter residency law can move forward, and he rejected an effort to remove Secretary of State Bill Gardner as a defendant in the case.

Lawyers for the state, the ACLU, and the New Hampshire Democratic Party went back and forth for two hours before Judge Laplante ruled that two Dartmouth students have a right to sue the state over the 2018 law that ends the state's distinction between "domicile" and "residency" for voting purposes.

That change means  out-of-state college students voting here would need to get a local driver’s license and register their cars in New Hampshire.

The plaintiffs say that amounts to a poll tax, a claim Judge Laplante greeted with skepticism.

But Laplante also questioned the state's argument that this law is isn't about voting.  Outside the courtroom, ACLU lawyer Henry Klementowicz, said he's eager to move ahead with the case.

"This is an election law that intentionally targets young voters and that's a challenge that we expect to be able to prevail on."

No date has been set for trial, but plaintiffs told the judge they hope to get a ruling in the case before the 2020 presidential primary.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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