Voting Laws

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday weighs an elections case that could dramatically change the way state legislative districts are drawn and could tilt some states in a decidedly more Republican direction.

The federal Constitution is clear. The national government's House of Representatives is to be apportioned based on the total population in each district, and the census is to count each person, whether eligible to vote or not, so that all are represented. The status of state legislative districts, however, is less clear.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

New Hampshire's Ballot Law Commission is preparing to decide whether Democrat Bernie Sanders and Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are eligible for the state's presidential primary ballot.

The group meets Tuesday to take up complaints against the candidates.

The challenge against Cruz, a Texas senator, alleges he's ineligible to run for president because he was born in Canada. Cruz's mother was born in Delaware, giving him U.S. citizenship upon birth.

The towns in New Hampshire's White Mountains region have been must-stops on the campaign schedules of presidential candidates for decades. The region's sweeping views, quaint villages and history of resilience make it the ideal backdrop for those auditioning for the Oval Office. But what’s in it for the voters? And how engaged are they, away from the campaign stops and photo ops? NHPR's Natasha Haverty wanted to find out.

Natasha Haverty

It’s on every presidential candidate’s checklist: make at least one swing through northern New Hampshire, deliver a stump speech, shake hands with residents of the quiet mountain towns. But what about the people who aren’t at those campaign events? 

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A Manchester man has turned himself in to police after a warrant was issued accusing him of giving false addresses and voting in two other towns on Election Day in November 2014. The attorney general's office says Derek Castonguay registered to vote in Salem last year while living in Manchester.

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Concerned over election fraud, the New Hampshire Secretary of State's office wants to keep on the books a state law that bans posting ballot photos to social media.

The Caledonian Record reports the office has taken its case to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston.

A federal judge ruled Aug. 13 that the law passed last year prohibiting residents from photographing their marked ballots and sharing them violated free speech and isn't necessary to stop election fraud, which is what proponents of the law— including the Secretary of State's office —had argued.

xandert / Morguefile

 

A federal judge has upheld a New Hampshire law the Libertarian Party argued could prevent its candidates from getting on the ballot.

Libertarians sued Secretary of State William Gardner last year, challenging new limits on how long parties have to collect signatures to petition their way onto the ballot. State law requires a third party to collect signatures equal to 3 percent of the total votes cast during the prior election. Under the change, parties can't begin gathering signatures until Jan. 1 of the election year.

U.S. National Archives / Flickr/CC

This month, there’s been a lot of attention to the rules and regulations around casting a ballot, with last week’s fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and a federal appeals court rejecting a Texas voter I.D. law.  We’re discussing how and why most states have tightened up their voting requirements, including New Hampshire.

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In 1870, Marilla Ricker, an attorney from Dover, attempted to cast a ballot in an election, but she was turned away. She tried again every year for the next five decades and was either refused or had her ballot destroyed. Ricker died in 1920, shortly after women won the right to vote. 

Allegra Boverman / NHPR

Fox News took plenty of criticism for how it chose the ten candidates for Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate. But for actual voters faced with paring the list down to just one candidate, the challenge is perhaps even more daunting.

Vox Efx / Flickr Creative Commons

 

A Concord non-profit is calling for greater voter participation and civic engagement in New Hampshire as it releases a study showing poor performance in both areas.

The group, Open Democracy, is holding a press conference Thursday morning at the Legislative Office Building to discuss the findings of a 9-month research project. The project measured areas such as voter registration and turnout, volunteerism, political donations, lobbying, diversity of representation and the competitiveness of New Hampshire elections.

Paige Sutherland for NHPR

Gov. Maggie Hassan says she is likely to veto a bill that would require a person to live in the state for at least 30 days before being able to vote.

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A coalition of civil rights groups, local election authorities and lawmakers are urging Gov. Maggie Hassan to veto a bill requiring people to live in New Hampshire for 30 days before they can register to vote.

The New Hampshire House passed the measure last week and the Senate already adopted a similar law. The Secretary of State's Office also supports the waiting period as a way to prevent "drive-by" voting by people who live out of state.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

 

The New Hampshire House is backing a bill that would require a person to live in the state for 30 days before they can vote.

Supporters of such legislation say they want to crack down on "drive by" voting to ensure people voting in New Hampshire elections actually live here. But critics say the state shouldn't restrict who can and can't vote. Students or others who move to the state less than 30 days before an election shouldn't be barred from voting, they say.

NHPR Staff

The state’s highest court has upheld a ruling that struck down a 2012 law linking registering to vote with state motor vehicle laws.

In a unanimous ruling the court called the voter form language  “confusing and inaccurate” and that it unreasonably burdens the fundamental right to vote.”

Out-of-state college students challenged the law, which added language to the form noting that drivers need to register vehicles and apply for a state driver’s license within 60 days of becoming a resident.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

 

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that struck down a 2012 voter registration law, saying language that links voting to getting a driver's license is unconstitutional and could discourage some people from voting.

The court, in a unanimous decision Friday, said because the language is confusing and inaccurate, and because it could cause an otherwise qualified voter not to register to vote in New Hampshire, it imposes an "unreasonable" burden upon the right to vote.

Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

A lawyer for the state of New Hampshire says the language of a voter registration law that lower courts have declared confusing and unconstitutional is legally accurate.

In arguments to the NH Supreme Court Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Stephen LaBonte says the 2012 law amending voter registration forms simply clarifies that those who reside here must abide by laws requiring them to obtain drivers' licenses and register their vehicles if they are residents.

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Note: This is a two-part story. Scroll down to hear and read what Republicans had to say.

Democratic voters:

While Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley have made many trips to New Hampshire and several other candidates have said they could run, right now Hillary Clinton is the only sure thing.

New Hampshire’s Democratic committeewoman, Kathy Sullivan, co-chaired Clinton’s winning 2008 primary campaign and remains a loyalist.  

Kyle Flannery/USFWS / Flickr/CC

A bill proposed by fourth graders from Hampton falls was harshly debated and defeated in the legislature last month, leading to some late-night satire but also a conversation about the best way to get students involved in the democratic process. We’ll look at that and also examine bills this year addressing voter requirements.

GUESTS, VOTER REQUIREMENTS:

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

The New Hampshire House of Representatives is asking the state Supreme Court to weigh in on a bill requiring people registering to vote — including out-of-state students or military personnel — to also register their cars and obtain drivers' licenses in New Hampshire.

The request for an advisory opinion was made in writing Wednesday and made public by the court Thursday.

A New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union lawyer says including the drivers' license requirement in establishing a voter's eligibility amounts to a poll tax that forces people to pay the state to vote.

From Pope Francis and President Obama to the kid down the block, we have, for better or worse, become a world full of selfie-takers.

But as ubiquitous as they are, there are some places where selfies remain controversial — like the voting booth. The legal battle rages over so-called ballot selfies in the state that holds the first presidential primary.

This may be a fight of the digital age, but according to New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, it involves a very old American ideal — the sanctity of the secret ballot.

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

House lawmakers are considering a measure that aims to create guidelines for election officials to judge a voters domicile. And the secretary of state’s office supports the bill.

The fight over what should constitute domicile for voting purposes has been going on for years in New Hampshire, and it’s often focused status of college students.

Anyone who’s been paying attention the last few months knows who and what will be appearing on the ballot in a few weeks. (And if you haven’t been paying attention, get off the sidelines already!) 

But how that information gets on the ballots is a process we don’t think much about.

In the run up to the 2004 election, NHPR's Lisa Peakes visited Captial Offset Printing, the company that had printed ballots for the state for decades.

Here's her story from the NHPR archives:

Tracy Lee Carroll, NHPR

A New Hampshire judge has struck down a law requiring out-of-state students to establish legal residency before being allowed to vote.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union challenged the law on behalf of four out-of-state college students two years ago, shortly after lawmakers overrode a veto by then-Gov. John Lynch and passed Senate Bill 318.

New Hampshire residents have one more day to register to vote in the September primary elections.

Tuesday is both the last day for new voter registration and the last day those already registered can change their party affiliations. Undeclared voters may vote in either the Republican or Democratic primaries.

The primaries will be held Sept. 9. Candidates can start signing up to get on the ballot Wednesday. The filing period ends June 13.

cleOpatra via Flickr CC

Gov. Deval Patrick is preparing to sign a bill that would allow early voting up to 11 days before Election Day, making Massachusetts the 33rd state to allow early voting.

The bill would also allow online voter registration and let 16- and 17-year-olds pre-register to vote.

A final compromise version of the bill has been approved by the Massachusetts House and Senate and shipped to Patrick for his signature.

Wendy Longo photography / Flickr Creative Commons

Behind the numbers are the experiences of America's poor, which, more often than not, go unheard. This divide is the problem that N.H. writer and activist Dan Weeks addressed in the project he undertook last year, to travel around some of the poorest areas of the country by bus and see poverty close up, as well as the ways that it intertwines with a lack of political voice. Today we'll talk with him about the series of articles he wrote for The Atlantic on his trip and what he saw.

GUESTS:

State prosecutors say Lorin C. Schneider of Carver, Massachusetts cast a ballot he shouldn't have in Manchester.

Assistant Attorney General Stephen Labonte says Schnieder once lived in Manchester, and came to the attention of authorities after he was seen voting in Ward 9 by someone who knew him, and knew he lived out of state.

According to Labonte, this wasn’t the first time Schneider wrongfully voted here.

"We also believe additional charges will be brought for voting in past elections, the 2012 presidential primary and the 2008 general election."

With all the talk around a Voter ID law, which would tighten requirements for voting, others are looking to loosen the reigns. They are hoping to pass a bill in which New Hampshire would join 35 other states in  allowing for absentee balloting. Supporters say that it would address the concerns of those who find themselves too busy to vote on Election Day or may not have transportation to get to the polls. Opponents however suggest that expanding voting could possibly lead to more voter fraud. We'll look at the possibilities.

Guests:

New Hampshire students will still be able to use their school-issued IDs to vote after lawmakers approved a modified bill Wednesday.

Under a law passed last year, student IDs would no longer have been valid at polls starting this fall. But lawmakers are rolling back that provision, allowing New Hampshire-based school IDs as proof of identity.

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