Pair of Lawsuits Challenging N.H. Voter Law are Merged

Oct 12, 2017

Credit Allegra Boverman for NHPR

A pair of lawsuits challenging the state's new voter registration law, Senate Bill 3, have been consolidated into one case.

The next major step is a structuring conference scheduled for Oct. 30. There, parties involved will sort out what the timeline and discovery process for the rest of the case might look like.

One of the formerly separate lawsuits was filed on behalf of the New Hampshire Democratic Party; the other came from the New Hampshire chapter of the League of Women Voters, as well as a trio of would-be voters who claim they would have trouble registering under the new law. Both were filed within a matter of hours on Aug. 23, several weeks before the law took effect.

Last month, a Hillsborough County judge declined to weigh in immediately on the constitutionality of the law — instead, the judge said the law could remain in place, but the state couldn't enforce any of its penalties until it was more fully reviewed by the court.

In the same ruling, the judge expressed concern that some of the penalties outlined in SB3 appeared to "act as a very serious deterrent on the right to vote."

The ruling also directed the Secretary of State's office to make an effort to ensure that election officials and the public are informed about the law's new requirements, and to make an effort to maintain accurate information about the new law on state and local websites.