Judge blocks new voter registration law, calling it confusing, unnecessary 

  • A voter marks a ballot for the New Hampshire primary inside a voting booth at a polling place Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, in Manchester, N.H. (AP Photo/David Goldman) David Goldman

Monitor staff
Published: 10/22/2018 4:14:51 PM

It looks like new voters won’t have to fill out any forms confirming they actually live in New Hampshire at next month’s election, because a Superior Court judge has blocked the law that required the extra documentation.

“Given the extraordinarily low rate of documented voter fraud in this state, it is far more likely that more legitimate voters will be dissuaded from voting than illegitimate voters will be prevented,” if the law known as SB3 was in effect at the Nov. 6 general election, wrote Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Brown in a ruling handed down Monday.

Brown granted an injunction sought by the League of Women Voters preventing the new law from going into effect. The law would have increased the amount of paperwork that people have to fill out when registering to vote in order to prove they live in the state if they moved here within 30 days of an election.

The New Hampshire Secretary of State’s office, which oversees elections, is considering its options.

Brown’s 23-page ruling was unsparing in its criticism of SB3, which was passed by the state Legislature in 2017, calling it confusing, unnecessary and ineffective. Among Brown’s comments:

■“SB3’s forms are drafted in a manner to make them confusing, hard to navigate and comply with, and difficult to complete in a timely manner.”

■“The court believes that SB3 will result in potentially significant increases in waiting times at polling places throughout the state. … There is official documentation of individuals leaving long lines at polling place in prior years. This will only become worse under SB3, and the impact will be felt by different populations depending on their geographic location, socioeconomic status, and educational background.”

■“SB3 itself does nothing to actually prevent voter fraud. ... Anyone intent on casting an ineligible vote can readily do so. Therefore, instead of combating fraud, the law simply opposes additional burdens on legitimate voters.”

The law was passed after President Donald Trump alleged widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire, though there’s been no evidence to support that.

Democrats challenged the measure during legislative debate, but Republicans argued existing state laws create the potential for fraud.

(Material from the Associated Press was used in this debate.)

David Brooks bio photo

David Brooks is a reporter and the writer of the sci/tech column Granite Geek and blog granitegeek.org, as well as moderator of Science Cafe Concord events. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in mathematics he became a newspaperman, working in Virginia and Tennessee before spending 28 years at the Nashua Telegraph . He joined the Monitor in 2015.

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