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New Hampshire judge blocks law requiring voters to show proof of residency

A judge has blocked a law that would require new voters to provide proof of residency when registering to vote. (Kayana Szymczak/Getty Images)

A New Hampshire judge has blocked a state law that would require voters to show proof of residency when registering to vote, the New Hampshire Union Leader reported.

Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Brown issued a temporary injunction Monday to suspend Senate Bill 3 pending further legal action.

Brown cited in his decision that the law would cause lengthy lines at polling places and that would make it more difficult for some groups, including students and the disabled, to vote.

“Where the law threatens to disenfranchise an individual’s right to vote, the only viable remedy is to enjoin its enforcement. Plaintiffs motion for preliminary injunction is granted,” Brown wrote in his decision.

What's the story?

SB 3 put in place new procedures requiring would-be voters to provide documents showing proof of residency when registering to vote within 30 days of an election or on election day.

Previously, would-be voters were permitted sign an affidavit regarding their address, according to the Union Leader.

Brown's decision followed weeks of testimony from witnesses called by the state in defense of the law and from others in opposition to the law.

The League of Women Voters and New Hampshire Democratic Party opposed the law, claiming it was an unnecessary obstacle for those wanting to exercise their right to vote.

But SB 3 supporters said it was necessary to help deter voter fraud.

“As with voter fraud, improving confidence in New Hampshire’s election system is not a significant state interest that justifies placing increased burdens on voters,” Brown wrote. “Moreover, there is no evidence that SB 3 even accomplishes its stated goal in this regard. The state presented no evidence that the new domicile affidavit has had any impact on the public’s perception of the election process.”

The injunction places the bill on hold until a full-scale trial is completed.

What did the governor say?

Gov. Chris Sununu (R), who signed the bill into law last year, said he's confident that the law will ultimately be upheld.

“SB 3 is a modest change to our election laws that does nothing more than ensure that all those who register to vote present valid identification,” he said, according to the Union Leader. “While this ruling is not unexpected, it is just one step in the process and I am confident that SB 3 will ultimately be upheld.”

New Hampshire voters are not required to show proof of address at the polls.

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