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Top New Hampshire Court Nixes Voter-Registration Hurdle

Finding the GOP-backed registration law unreasonably burdened voters and therefore violated the New Hampshire Constitution, the high court unanimously struck it down Friday.

CONCORD, N.H. (CN) — The New Hampshire Supreme Court vanquished a Republican voter law from 2017 on Friday, finding its requirements to be unconstitutional.

The unanimous decision upholds a from last April in which a lower court that looked at Senate Bill 3 found the law “unreasonably burdens the right to vote.”

New Hampshire's Republican-controlled Legislature enacted the law after President Donald Trump claimed, without evidence, that he lost the state in 2016 due to widespread voter fraud. Purporting to shore up voters' trust in government, SB 3 required new voters to prove they were voting where they resided.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters' New Hampshire branch filed suit soon after, alleging the law now required voters to fill out tedious forms and particularly targeted college students who tend to lean left.

Those forms specifically required people who were registering to vote within 30 days of an election or on Election Day had to have proof of residency, be it a lease or a tax form. If they are unable to obtain proof, they could sign an affidavit and bring the paperwork to local officials within 10 days.

Failure to do so could result in officials showing up to the voter’s address, thousands of dollars in fines or prosecution for voter fraud.

In finding the law unconstitutional, the high court denied the states’ argument that the law could not be unconstitutional because it was not a burden to all voters, only some. Additionally, the court ruled that the secretary of state does not have the authority to revise the voter forms.

Further, the court said the state failed to prove they had enough interest in enacting such voting restrictions.

“We acknowledge that the interests identified by the State are important, if not vital,” Justice Patrick Donovan wrote for the court. ”Nonetheless, under our intermediate level of scrutiny, at trial the State was required to prove that the ‘challenged law is substantially related to an important governmental objective’.”

In a statement, New Hampshire’s League of Women Voters said the decision is timely as Independence day approaches — a “fitting reminder that voting rights are at the heart of our democracy”.

“Today’s ruling struck down a harmful voter registration law designed to penalize voters and limit who can participate in our elections,” the group said in a statement. “The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire was one of the original plaintiffs in this case, and while we are pleased with this verdict, we must ensure that further attempts to restrict voting rights in New Hampshire will be curtailed by this ruling. We will continue to be vigilant if more voter suppression bills move forward in committee hearings this fall.”

A new raft of voter-suppression efforts have exploded across 22 conservative states in the wake of the 2020 election, despite, again, no showing that any fraud took place to substantiate hurdles said to keep minorities from turning out at the polls.

The U.S. Supreme Court endorsed such policies Thursday in a 6-3 ruling that favored two suppressive laws in Arizona.

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