ACLU Challenge to Secretary of State On N.H. Voter Information Postponed

Jul 10, 2017

Update: The hearing was postponed Tuesday morning at the request of the New Hampshire ACLU, pending further legal action at the federal level.

One of the first legal challenges related to the Trump administration’s request for state voter files will go before a judge in Nashua Tuesday, as part of a lawsuit filed last week by the New Hampshire ACLU and two state lawmakers.

The plaintiffs in this case are a pair of New Hampshire legislators on opposite sides of the political aisle: Democratic State Sen. Bette Lasky, of Nashua, and Republican Rep. Neal Kurk, of Weare.

Both spoke to NHPR last week about their involvement in the lawsuit, citing concerns over privacy and the uncertainty of how the voter information shared with the commission might be used.

“The fact they're planning to make it public just pours salt in the wound, but there is no ability under current New Hampshire law for the federal government to get a copy of our voter database," Kurk told NHPR last week. "That was intentionally done by the Legislature. We don't want the federal government having databases consisting of personally identifiable information about New Hampshire residents."

Together with the ACLU, the lawmakers are asking the court to put a temporary halt on Secretary of State Bill Gardner’s plans to turn over voter information until there’s a chance to more fully review whether that’s allowed under state law.

Gov. Chris Sununu said he supports the idea of turning over whatever information’s already available in public voter checklists as a way to clear up lingering skepticism around the integrity of the nation’s election system. But he said the state will comply with whatever the court orders.

"Whatever happens with this court decision tomorrow, we will abide by that. That’s exactly what we want to do," Sununu said during an interview with NHPR's The Exchange Monday morning. "We’re not allowing the federal government access to anything the general public does not already have access to."

The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Hillsborough County Superior Court South in Nashua.