New Hampshire Supreme Court strikes down GOP law making it harder for students to vote

700

It's a rare win for voting rights.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Friday struck down a GOP-passed voter registration law that opponents said would make it harder for college students in the state to vote, writing in a unanimous ruling that the law "imposes an unreasonable and discriminatory burden on the rights of voters in New Hampshire."

The law, known as Senate Bill 3, required residents who wanted to register to vote within 30 days of an election to fill out what the court described as "complicated" registration forms, as well as provide proof-of-residence documents or else face fines as high as $5,000 or even up to a year in prison.

Republicans passed the law in 2017 in response to Trump's narrow loss in the state, after Trump falsely claimed that "thousands" of people were illegally "brought in on buses" from Massachusetts to vote in New Hampshire.

A New Hampshire judge struck the law down in 2020, writing, "Young, mobile, low-income and homeless voters will all encounter SB 3 and be exposed to its penalties at a higher rate than other voters. Therefore the burdens imposed by the law are discriminatory, in addition to being unreasonable."

Republicans appealed the ruling but were unsuccessful, as the state Supreme Court wrote that the law "must be stricken in its entirety."

College students are a favorite target of Republicans in New Hampshire.

The state has the highest number of college students per capita, making up 11% of the state's population, according to the trade publication American School & University.

Earlier this year, Republican state lawmakers introduced two bills that would prohibit students from registering to vote using their college dorm address, and would also remove student IDs as a valid form of identification to vote. Neither bill passed before the legislative session ended.

Ultimately, the ruling from the New Hampshire Supreme Court marks a rare win for voting rights.

This year, Republicans across the country have passed a spate of laws making it harder to vote in the wake of Trump's loss, either by adding more hurdles to register or cast ballots, shortening the time citizens have to vote, or even stripping elections officials of power and instead giving it to GOP lawmakers in the state.

And on Thursday, the Supreme Court weakened yet another part of the landmark Voting Rights Act.

The Republican push to make it harder to vote has put pressure on Democrats to act. However, with the filibuster in place, it's unlikely any voting rights legislation can pass Congress, as Senate Republicans would block it as they did with the For the People Act in June.

The For the People Act would squash almost every one of the voter suppression laws Republicans passed this year, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.