The provision is part of a bill designed to check the registration of voters who enroll to vote on election day or within 30 days of it. The current law allows anyone who is 18 and domiciled, or living day to day in the state, to vote. The bill under consideration would require those who register to vote to show some kind of proof that they intend to live in New Hampshire or sign an affidavit promising to show documentation in 10 or 30 days following the election.
If a voter doesn’t provide that proof, officials could take several actions to verify that person’s address, including sending law enforcement there or requesting that the secretary of state send a letter.
In testimony submitted to a House panel Tuesday, Gilles Bissonnette, the legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire, argued the legislation would “effectively criminalize” voters unable to provide the required documentation.
“Amazingly, the bill goes so far as to effectively criminalize these voters if the information is not submitted to the local clerk’s office, even in the absence of actual fraud,” Bissonnette said, noting that residents could face a $5,000 fine and be removed from voting rolls.
“This shocking penalty, as well as the criminal investigations themselves, will deter individuals—especially those who may not have physical proof because they just moved—from voting through the same-day registration process.”
So many people turned out for a public hearing on the bill Tuesday that it had to be moved to a larger room at the New Hampshire capitol. Most of the people who attended Tuesday’s hearing were against the measure.
Supporters of the bill argue that the current state law makes it too easy for people from out of state to vote in New Hampshire elections ― though there’s no evidence whatsoever that has occurred.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner (D) testified in support of the bill on Tuesday, saying that such a law would signal the tough integrity of the state’s election and combat the perception that there’s widespread fraud, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader. That notion has been stoked by President Donald Trump, who said in February there was widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire and that people were bused in from neighboring states. There is no evidence to support the president’s claim.
“This is a very hard thing for the League of Women Voters to watch, an attempt to change voting laws based on unsubstantiated claims and fears of widespread voter fraud,” said Liz Tentarelli, president of the New Hampshire chapter of the League of Women voters in her testimony Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
The bill, currently before the House Election Law Committee, is expected to advance.