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Sununu signs HB 1264: Live here, vote here

July 13. 2018 2:04PM

Gov. Chris Sununu promised to veto any legislation that would make it harder for college students to vote in New Hampshire. When Democrats claimed that a bill clarifying the state's voter residency requirement would do just that, Sununu asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court for an advisory opinion.

On Thursday, the court advised that HB 1264 is constitutional. Two dissenting justices did not find that the bill would suppress eligible voters, but argued they could not come to any conclusion without a full trial.

On Friday, Sununu took the court's advice and signed HB 1264 into law.

We did not think it necessary to ask the court for an advisory opinion. Limiting voter rights to New Hampshire residents is common sense and in line with residency requirements in many states. But the opinion should short-circuit the inevitable lawsuit against the new law, unless Democrats can find a judge willing to ignore the state Supreme Court.

The Democratic objection to HB 1264 is that a residency requirement is a burden for potential voters. It is not.

Becoming a New Hampshire resident provides people new to the Granite State with the opportunity to fully participate in civic life in the Granite State. It is a bundle of rights and responsibilities, not an a la carte menu.

We should not have two tiers of citizenship, where permanent residents pay New Hampshire taxes and fees, while others pretend they live here for voting purposes, and elsewhere for other purposes.

If people want to avoid those responsibilities, they are free to vote in their home states, where they have their drivers license and car registrations. New voters need only a photo ID and a piece of mail showing that they live in the district where they wish to register. And new voters without these documents can sign an affidavit, fill out a ballot, and have their residency confirmed later.

A series of Democratic challenges to reasonable ballot access laws created these loopholes in the first place, and HB 1264 is a prudent step to close them.

Sununu was right when he promised to protect the right of college students to register as New Hampshire voters. He was also right to sign HB 1264 into law.

For too long, New Hampshire Democrats have used reckless scare tactics to claim Republicans were disenfranchising college students. Students attending New Hampshire colleges have a choice.

They are free to vote here, but doing so requires a commitment to being a full-fledged New Hampshire resident.


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