On March 18, 2015, the New Hampshire House of Representatives requested a legal opinion from the New Hampshire Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of House Bill 112 (“HB 112”), which is described as an act relative to domicile for voting purposes. HB 112 would amend RSA 654:1 by inserting a paragraph with the following language: “A person who declares an address in a New Hampshire town or ward as his or her domicile for voting purposes shall be deemed to have established his or her residence for motor vehicle law purposes at that address.”
On March 30, 2015, the ACLU of New Hampshire filed a brief, along with the League of Women Voters and the Fair Elections Legal Network, addressing HB 112’s unconstitutionality.
HB 112 is unconstitutional because it discriminates against and imposes onerous motor vehicle fees on certain people who live in New Hampshire simply because they exercise their fundamental right to vote. These motor vehicle fees are substantial. A New Hampshire driver’s license costs $50, and registration fees can be in the hundreds of dollars. This requirement is not only arbitrary and irrational, but it would have the obvious effect of chilling these individuals, who are constitutionally-entitled to vote in New Hampshire, from actually voting. In short, HB 112’s imposition of these fees as a requirement to vote is nothing short of an impermissible poll tax.
On April 9, 2015, the Court issued a decision asking to be excused from issuing an advisory opinion “without a developed factual record” given (i) the “inherently fact-specific” nature of the constitutional inquiry and (ii) the fact that the ACLU’s voter registration form case is currently pending before the Supreme Court “that involves similar issues.”
Cooperating Attorney: William E. Christie of Shaheen & Gordon, P.A.