Concord, NH — Today, the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued the advisory opinion on HB 1264, relative to construction of the terms “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency.”
Senator Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead), chair of the Senate Election Law & Internal Affairs committee, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), Representative Barbara Griffin (R-Goffstown), chair of the House Election Law committee, and House Speaker Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) issued the following statements:
“Today’s opinion issued by the Supreme Court is a major development and an important victory for New Hampshire voters,” said Senator Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead). “We are extremely pleased by advisory opinion which reaffirms our position that removing the four words, ‘from the indefinite future’ from statute makes no changes to an individual’s ability to vote whatsoever. We agree with the assessment that there is nothing unfair or unconstitutional about state laws that require individuals to make a choice on where they are residents as it pertains to voting.”
“We have an obligation to ensure that our laws reflect our belief in establishing true fairness and equity for each voter and for every vote cast in an election. The opinion provided by the justices confirms that the intent of this legislation was met and will allow our state to come into line with 49 other states, requiring that those who register to vote here meet the same requirements and are treated the same way as all New Hampshire residents,” added Birdsell.
“Today I stand in continued support of HB 1264, passed by both our NH House and Senate, an act which our Supreme Court has decided is constitutional under both the State and Federal Constitutions. This Act sought to align the concepts of residence and domicile, two terms used through our statutes to which individuals have attributed different meanings. I believe the Court correctly began its analysis of the issues presented by finding the State has a compelling interest in making sure that persons do not claim a status in the State for the sole purpose of voting. The Court has concluded the alignment of definitions does not affect the eligibility of persons to vote in our elections, and ensures that the provisions and application of New Hampshire law are equivalent,” said Representative Barbara Griffin (R-Goffstown). “Choosing New Hampshire as your domicile for voting should subject each and every one of us to the same obligation of state citizenship. I look forward to HB 1264 receiving the signature of the Governor,” Griffin added.
“The opinion issued by the court substantiates what we’ve been saying throughout this process, that HB1264 has no effect on eligibility to vote, serves the interests of the state, and satisfies constitutional standards. I would hope that we can all move forward with a clear understanding that this bill is about fairness and equalizing the legal standards for voting and other purposes. I urge Governor Sununu to support the work of the House and Senate on this important bill, and sign HB1264,” said House Speaker Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett).
“Voting is one of the most important and essential rights laid out in our constitution,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro). “It is a simple matter of common sense to require those who participate in our elections to abide by the same set of guidelines and become residents of New Hampshire as other voters have done. This legislation guarantees all voters the same and appropriate level of fairness that has been missing in our elections. The intent of this legislation has never been to disenfranchise anyone from voting in the State of New Hampshire. Today’s opinion reaffirms our original intent to create a level playing field for all voters in this bill.”
“The Supreme Court’s advisory opinion is a major win for the voters of New Hampshire and I urge Governor Sununu to sign HB 1264 into law as soon as possible,” added Bradley.
The opinion can be found at: https://www.courts.state.nh.us/supreme/opinions/2018/2018039oj.pdf