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March 13. 2013 10:49PM

NH House approves changes to voter registration forms

CONCORD - Removing references to motor vehicle laws from voter registration forms was approved by the House Wednesday on a 190-149 vote.

House Bill 119 would change the law to make it clear a person does not need to have a New Hampshire driver's license or have registered a car in the state in order to vote, say supporters of the bill.

Current law includes a notice to those registering to vote they need to register their car and have a New Hampshire driver's license if claiming his or her domicile is in New Hampshire.

Rep. Gary Richardson, D-Hopkinton, said the reference confuses new voters, particularly college students who say they intend to remain in the state.

"You don't give up your right to vote because you don't register your car," said Rep. Gary Richardson, D-Hopkinton. "This in my opinion is intended to prevent college students from voting."

But opponents say retaining the reference to motor vehicle laws is a "right-to-know" issue and that new voters need to know there are responsibilities and duties that come with residency.

"Let's be honest folks. There are requirements on the books that these people are subject to whether we leave it out or leave in," said Rep. Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson. "Let's not play this game. The court ultimately will have the final say."

A superior court judge ruled last fall the reference to motor vehicle laws caused confusion and ordered the state to remove the language from voter registration forms before the 2012 general election. The case is still pending.

House Bill 119 removes the reference to motor vehicle laws and also changes the definition of domicile to align with current law. The bill faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled Senate.

grayno@unionleader.com



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