About two months ago, I posted DemocRATS May Very Well Succeed in Negating New Hampshire’s Voter-Residency Requirement. This is not an instance where I enjoy saying “told you so,” but I told you so.
To recap, the prior Legislature passed … and Governor Sununu eventually signed … HB 1264 a measure to redress out-of-State college students voting in New Hampshire elections … and thereby stealing the votes of New Hampshire residents.
HB 1264 essentially made the act of voting in New Hampshire (declaring domicile in New Hampshire) a declaration of residency in New Hampshire, subjecting the voter to all the responsibilities of a New Hampshire resident, such as obtaining a New Hampshire driver’s license. The intent, obviously, was to restrict voting to voters who are truly domiciled in New Hampshire. Stated somewhat differently, if you exercise the right to vote in New Hampshire, you are assuming all the responsibilities of a New Hampshire resident.
Sununu refused to sign HB 1264 unless and until the New Hampshire Supreme Court deemed it constitutional. He received such an opinion in Opinion of the Justices, 171 N.H. 128 (2018) and signed the bill into law.
After HB 1264 became effective (July, 2019), the DemocRATS sued in federal court. Initially, they made the same arguments they made before the New Hampshire Supreme Court … that HB 1264 was an unconstitutional “poll tax,” discriminated against college students, blah, blah, blah. These are obviously bullish*t arguments. How can it be constitutional for every other State to require residency to vote or say that the act of voting is a declaration of residency, but not for New Hampshire? To ask the question is to answer it.
So the DemocRATS did the legal equivalency of football’s “Hail Mary pass,” completely reversing course and arguing that HB 1264 did NOT apply to out-of-State college students because of RSA 259:88, which provides that “no person shall be deemed to be a resident” for the purposes of the Motor Vehicle Code “who claims residence in any other state for any purpose.” They argue that registered voters with an out-of-state driver’s license or vehicle registration claim residence in another state for some purpose, and so are not residents for the purposes of the Motor Vehicle Code.
This is an obviously absurd argument. To say that out-of-State college students can claim residence in another State for the purpose of not claiming residence in New Hampshire … but still vote in New Hampshire … would render the passage of HB 1264 a meaningless act. It would make HB 1264 read as follows: the act of voting in New Hampshire is a declaration of residency in New Hampshire unless the voter doesn’t want to declare residency in New Hampshire.
Moreover, any out-of-State college student who claims he or she does NOT have to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license because of RSA 259.88 has NO business claiming to be domiciled in New Hampshire. Such an out-of-State college student does NOT qualify as a domiciliary of New Hampshire because he or she is claiming to be domiciliary of another State. Any such student who voted in New Hampshire committed VOTER FRAUD.
The federal judge punted the question to the New Hampshire Supreme Court.
As I discussed in my prior post, the New Hampshire Supreme Court opinion giving a thumbs-up to HB 1264 … Opinion of the Justices, 171 N.H. 128 (2018) … was decided by a bare three-to-two majority and Chief Justice Lynn … who was in the majority … has since retired. This leaves two Sununu-appointees who are not, to put it charitably, exactly what you would call legal scholars … and two hard-Left activist justices who want to reach a result favorable to the DemocRATS.
Because of Lynn’s retirement the New Hampshire Supreme Court named a replacement under RSA 490:3. The replacement is retired superior court Judge Kenneth Brown, a hardened liberal-activist judge.
Hope I’m wrong, But it looks like the proverbial handwriting is on the wall for HB 1264. Add Brown to the two liberal-activists already on the record as hostile to HB 1264 and you have a three-to-two majority, which will produce some gobbledygook turning the legislative intent on its head by allowing RSA 259:88 to eviscerate HB 1264.
Of course, even if I’m wrong … as I hope … HB 1264 still needs to be enforced by the Governor. That is, out-of-State students who claim domicile in New Hampshire but then do not obtain New Hampshire driver’s licenses, etcetera need to be prosecuted for Voter Fraud.