Federal judge weighs whether to block voting residency law (with a driver’s license) for NH 2020 primary

Whether registering to vote triggers a requirement to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license is now in the hands of a federal judge.

Judge Joseph Laplante took under advisement a bid by the American Civil Liberties Union and state Democratic Party to block enforcing a law linking residency to voting in the first-in-the-nation primary in February.

During a U.S. District Court hearing lasting more than four hours, Laplante heard from three witnesses and took oral arguments from both sides over the challenge to a 2018 law (HB 1264) that sets in motion a driver license requirement for any person who votes and then intends to stay in the state.

The lawsuit maintains the offices of Secretary of State Bill Gardner and Attorney General Gordon MacDonald have failed to clearly state the implications of this new law on driver licensing.

Hanover Town Clerk Elizabeth McClain testified she made numerous attempts to get Gardner to answer her questions about the new law because more than two dozen Dartmouth College students raised questions with her office.