Judge Allows N.H. Voting Law To Take Effect, But Blocks Penalties

Sep 12, 2017

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge is allowing a controversial new voting to law to go into effect, but is blocking the state from enforcing its penalties. (Read the full decision below.)

Judge Charles Temple issued his decision early Tuesday morning, just as voters are heading to the polls for a special election in Laconia.

The New Hampshire Democratic Party and League of Women Voters, were seeking an immediate injunction to block implementation.

The Republican-backed law known as SB3 creates new requirements for those registering to vote within 30 days of an election to provide documents proving they live where they are casting ballots. That part of the law is in effect for now, but Temple blocked the state from imposing fines on voters that could run as high as $5,000.

The judge dismissed the call for a temporary injunction, but refused the state's request to dismiss the lawsuits outright. In the decision, the court calls the penalties in SB3 are “a very serious deterrent on the right to vote.” 

Governor Chris Sununu supported the law, and speaking to NHPR's The Exchange, said he was happy with the ruling.

"The judge took a cautious approach, but we’re pleased the major provisions of the law are being allowed to go into effect. This is just one step of this legal process some folks have started. We will abide by the law, whatever the courts decide."