ACLU Sues to Block New Hampshire Voter Residency Requirements

Feb 13, 2019

Credit Rebecca Lavoie for NHPR

A controversial New Hampshire voting law set to take effect in July is now facing a legal challenge from the ACLU.

In a complaint filed Wednesday in federal district court, the ACLU claims the law, House Bill 1264, unconstitutionally limits the student vote. (Read the suit here.)

Two Dartmouth College undergraduates are named as plaintiffs, both from out of state.

Under HB 1264, voters must declare residency in New Hampshire, which in turn triggers other requirements. Legal state residents, for example, must have in-state driver’s licenses and car registrations.

Those requirements, the ACLU argues, are costly and act as a poll tax for students and others who have recently relocated to the state.

The state legislature, now under Democratic control, is moving to reverse HB 1264 this year. It’s unclear if Governor Chris Sununu would veto that effort if it passes.

ACLU Attorney Henry Klementowicz said the stakes are too high to wait for lawmakers to take action. “It would be premature not to move forward with our case when we don't know what the governor and legislature would do," he said.

The complaint names Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald as defendants. 

"It is the Attorney General’s duty to vigorously defend the laws of our state and our office will do so in this case,” said Anthony Galdieri, senior assistant attorney general, in a statement.