The Saint Anselm Crier

New voter registration amendment requires stricter documentation, verifying residence draws support from Saint Anselm students

Liz Torrey, Managing Editor

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A new amendment to New Hampshire voter registration law, titled Senate Bill 3, just been approved by the state Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee, clearing it to be voted on by the full state Senate.

The bill, sponsored by Republican state Senator Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead), states that individuals who register to vote in New Hampshire must provide verifiable proof that they live or intent to live in the state. If they have physically resided in New Hampshire for less than 30 days and have not moved to make their stay permanent, they will not be eligible to vote in New Hampshire.

Individuals must provide evidence that before registering to vote, they have moved to make New Hampshire their domicile.

To gain domicile in New Hampshire currently, voters must have established a physical presence in the state more than any other and must have showed intent to maintain continuously present for domestic and civil purposes. According to the new amendment, intent to make New Hampshire one’s home, proven by a “verifiable act”, will be the new standard of domicile.

The amendment lists “verifiable acts” that prove domicile as things such as: verification of residency at a higher institution of learning, the renting, leasing, or purchasing of an abode, a resident motor vehicle registration, a driver’s license, an official non-driver’s picture identification card, state or federal tax returns, a U.S. passport, a state hunting or fishing license, or confirmation that a homeless shelter or similar provider has arranged to receive U.S. mail on behalf of an individual using that facility’s address for voting purposes. These forms of documentation must list the address that a person is claiming as his or her domicile.

Courtesy/Kyleigh Kneeland
Kyleigh Kneeland ’20.

For Saint Anselm students, verification of residency at a higher institution of learning will be the most applicable verifiable act. Freshman and Biochemistry major Kyleigh Kneeland said about the new standard, “I think it’s a good idea, it avoids confusion with people from other states.”

If voters choose to register on Election Day and do not possess the necessary documentation, they will still be allowed to vote. They will be required to sign a domicile affidavit, or sworn statement, listing their address and agreeing to mail or present evidence of one of the “verifiable acts”, undertaken before registering to vote, to the town clerk’s office within 10 days of the election. This rule is extended to 30 days in towns where the clerk’s office is open fewer than 20 hours per week.

Sen. Birdsell clarified to Crier staff, “If you register same day and have your proof, you go and vote. If you register and don’t have your proof, you go and vote, however you need to either bring your proof to the town clerk or mail it to them within 10 days.”

Sophomore and Computer Science major David Parker, whose mother is a town clerk in New Hampshire, told the Crier, “I think it’s a good idea… If you live in New Hampshire, it’s not like you won’t have some form of identification somewhere to prove you are who you say you are.” If proper documentation is not provided within the 10 or 30 day window, municipal officials can visit the address in question to verify domicile. The secretary of state may also send a letter of domicile verification. Initially, Senate Bill 3 stated that local law enforcement could also visit the address to verify domicile, but this measure was struck down in last Tuesday’s hearing.

If an individual’s domicile can not be verified, a full investigation will ensue and that individual will be notified of his or her removal from the voting checklist.

Senior and Computer Science major (with a Math emphasis) Hope McCarthy said, “As long as they have the 10 day buffer and they make it well-known, it’s reasonable, as long as it’s not going to stop anyone from actually voting.”

Sen. Birdsell insisted that is exactly the case. “Regardless of what some people are saying no one will be denied the right to vote under SB3. It’s based on ‘Trust but Verify’.”

The full state Senate, where Republicans hold a 14-10 majority, will vote on Senate Bill 3 this week.

Fraudulently registering to vote in New Hampshire incurs a fine of $5,000, and voting in more than one state could earn a person up to seven years in jail, in addition to a fine of $4,000.

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New voter registration amendment requires stricter documentation, verifying residence draws support from Saint Anselm students