Democratic Presidential Contenders Criticize New Hampshire Voting Restriction

Several Democrats running for the White House quickly came out against a revision to New Hampshire voting laws that adds a requirement on voters in the state the holds the nation’s first presidential primary.

New Hampshire currently only requires that people be “domiciled” in the state and not necessarily an official a resident of it to vote there ― language that opens up the franchise to many college students. But beginning July 1, a new law would align the legal definitions of being domiciled and being a resident.

That’s significant because those who declare residency in the state and want to drive in it ― the vast majority of people ― are required to get a state driver’s license and register any vehicle they own within 60 days.

Civil rights groups say the change amounts to a “poll tax,” and is clearly targeted at New Hampshire’s out-of-state college students. A driver’s license in the state costs $50.

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the state in federal court over it.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) wrote a letter to all of her party’s presidential candidates asking them to support a petition opposing the measure.

“Here, where the first-in-the-nation presidential primary makes voting a special responsibility, a new voter suppression law means tens of thousands of young people could lose their right to vote,” Shaheen wrote. The letter was first reported by CNN.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed the measure into law last year after initially expressing some skepticism about it. The New Hampshire Supreme Court issued an advisory opinion saying it was reasonable to require someone who wanted to vote in New Hampshire meet the obligations of a resident, and Sununu said in an op-ed said he agreed with that view.

The state legislature ― controlled at the time by Republicans ― passed the measure last year after President Donald Trump repeatedly claimed without evidence that people were bused into New Hampshire from out of state to illegally vote in the 2016 election. The state investigated and found nothing that supported that claim.

Trump lost New Hampshire and its 4 electoral votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton by less than 3,000 votes. Also in the 2016 election, Democrat Maggie Hassan defeated then-Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) by just 1,017 votes.

Democrats took control of the New Hampshire legislature in the 2018 election and are advancing a bill to repeal the new voting restriction. But the Democrats lack the votes to override a likely veto of such legislation by Sununu.

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