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Judge strikes down New Hampshire's restrictive voter registration law

Voters cast their ballots in Sutton, New Hampshire. Photo: Ryan McBride/AFP/Getty Images
Voters cast their ballots in Sutton, New Hampshire. Photo: Ryan McBride/AFP/Getty Images

A New Hampshire Superior Court judge on Monday temporarily blocked the state from applying new voter registration requirements in the midterm elections in two weeks amid concerns from critics who said it deliberately targets college students and others who are more likely to vote Democratic.

Why it matters: Republicans narrowly lost New Hampshire in 2016. President Trump claimed voter fraud, but Judge Kenneth Brown ruled that voter fraud is extremely rare and that the law will "result in potentially significant increases in waiting times at polling places throughout the state, particularly those with large turnout." He added because "the law threatens to disenfranchise an individual’s right to vote, the only viable remedy is to enjoin its enforcement."

Supporters of the measure, signed into law last year, argue that tightening residency requirements for those who register to vote on Election Day would prevent voter fraud and increase voter confidence. It required voters who move to the state within 30 days of an election to prove they intend to become permanent New Hampshire residents. Opponents labeled it as an unnecessary barrier to the ballot box, adding that it would dissuaded people from voting.

  • Last year, a judge had allowed the law to take effect. But he said further hearings were necessary and blocked penalties of a $5,000 fine and potential jail sentences of up to a year for failing to submit residence paperwork 
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