Controversy over SB 3, a new voting law, remains a partisan cloud over Concord, despite a court ruling this week allowing much of it to take effect.
“Definitely the judge was offering a to-be-continued on this,” Dante Scala, a political science professor at the University of New Hampshire, said Thursday on The Exchange with Laura Knoy.
Superior Court Judge Charles Temple’s order did block the state from imposing fines on voters that could run as high as $5,000.
Republicans who supported the law, known as Senate Bill 3, hailed the decision as a victory. So, too, did Democrats. They, along with the American Civil Liberties Union of N.H., said the proposed penalties were part of what made the law “voter suppression.”
The case continues. The court plans a full evidentiary hearing at some date on the constitutionality of the new domicile requirements in the law.
The law establishes new requirements for those registering to vote within 30 days of an election. It calls on them to provide documents that show they live where they are voting.
Rep. Barbara Griffin, R-Goffstown, is chair of the House Election Commission. She tells The Exchange that the new voter registration law aims to protect the integrity of local and state elections.
There is increased confidence in elections when voters believe the system is secure, Griffin said.
Huck Montgomery, who advocated for America Votes at the Legislature this year, said there is potential for thousands of voters to be affected by Senate Bill 3. New Hampshire should be making sure every eligible voter can cast a ballot and not erect hurdles, he says.
Montgomery called the court ruling "good news."
Gov. Chris Sununu told NHPR earlier this week that he was pleased with the decision. He does, however, disagree with the order's block on the penalties.
Temple called the new civil and criminal penalties "severe" restrictions on the right to vote.