Democratic lawmakers, ACLU urge Hassan to veto 30-day residency requirement for voting



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CONCORD, New Hampshire — Gov. Maggie Hassan is likely to veto legislation that would require people to live in New Hampshire for 30 days before they can vote in the state.

Hassan's office said Thursday she worries the bill will restrict people's constitutional right to vote. The comments from her office came after a coalition of Democratic lawmakers, election workers and the American Civil Liberties Union called the bill unconstitutional.

The Republican-controlled House and Senate both passed the bill earlier this year and Hassan could take action on it at any time. Besides requiring people to live in New Hampshire for 30 days before they can vote here, it outlines specific criteria election workers should evaluate when determining someone's domicile for voting purposes, including whether the person is eligible for a resident hunting or fishing license or has a New Hampshire driver's license.

Supporters of the bill say the measure would eliminate voter fraud, including so-called drive-by voting by people who register to vote on Election Day when they don't live in the state. People domiciled in New Hampshire can register on the day they vote. Secretary of State Bill Gardner backs the bill and has said he believes drive-by voting is a problem.

"You should really live here," said Republican Sen. Sharon Carson of Londonderry, the measure's prime sponsor. "You're making a decision about what representation should look like and if you're not vested in that community, you don't have any ties to that community, why are you voting here?"

But opponents say the bill would unfairly restrict the rights of students or other new state residents to vote and say the state has no compelling interest to adopt the measure.

"In a democracy, the voters are the one that pick their representatives — the representatives don't pass laws to pick their voters," said Democratic Sen. David Pierce of Lebanon.

Many other states have residency requirements for voting. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1972 says states can put residency requirements in place only if they can justify a compelling state interest. Opponents of the 30-day residency requirement say because New Hampshire allows people to register to vote on Election Day, it does not have an administrative reason to support the bill.

Neighboring Maine has same-day voter registration and its state Supreme Court ruled against a 30-day residency requirement in 1973.

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