On Eve of Laconia Election, Legal Challenges to New Voting Law Await Judge's Orders

Sep 12, 2017

After three hours of arguments inside a Hillsborough County courtroom in Nashua on Monday afternoon, the fate of the state's controversial new voting law is still up in the air heading into a Laconia legislative special election on Tuesday.

The presiding judge said he would consider both sides' arguments overnight and would issue an order no later than 7 a.m., when the polls are set to open in Laconia and in Belmont. 

On the docket Monday were two separate but related suits challenging the new law, known as Senate Bill 3: one filed by the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the other by the League of Women Voters and a trio of potential voters who claim they would be burdened by the new law.

Among other things, attorneys challenging the new law brought up concerns that voters in Laconia have not been adequately warned about new changes to the registration process. They pointed to the city's election website, which as of Monday afternoon hadn't been updated to reflect changes under the new law.

State attorneys defending SB3 said the Secretary of State's office has offered training to election officials on the law's changes to the registration process. They also said Department of Justice officials will be at the polls in Laconia on Tuesday to field any questions or concerns that might come up.  

The special election for this House seat is a contest between Republican Steven Whalley and Democrat Charlie St. Clair. Both candidates are from Laconia.

For a more detailed play-by-play from inside the courtroom, see more of NHPR's live coverage of the hearing on Twitter.