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New Hampshire Supreme Court strikes down GOP-backed voter registration law

The court agreed that the law "unreasonably burdens the right to vote,” in violation of the state constitution.
A polling station at Windham, N.H., on Nov. 3, 2020.
A polling station at Windham, N.H., on Nov. 3, 2020.Charles Krupa / AP file

The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Friday struck down a 2017 state law crafted by Republicans that implemented new requirements for same-day voter registration that critics say made it more difficult for college students to vote.

In a unanimous 4-0 decision, the state Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling from last year that found the law, known as Senate Bill 3, violated New Hampshire's Constitution “because it unreasonably burdens the right to vote.”

The state Supreme Court said that the law “must be stricken in its entirety.”

The ruling stems from a 2017 lawsuit brought by college students as well as the League of Women Voters and the state Democratic Party who argued that the law required new voters to fill out complicated forms.

Specifically, the law led to the creation of new forms that people registering to vote within 30 days of an election or on Election Day were required to fill out if they didn’t have proper documentation providing proof of residence. They would then need to bring in those documents within a certain period to election officials.

If the new voters, however, couldn’t comply with the law’s requirements, they would be subject to steep fines and potential criminal prosecution.

The president of the League of Women Voters' New Hampshire branch, Liz Tentarelli, said in a statement provided to NBC News that the ruling Friday is "a fitting reminder that voting rights are at the heart of our democracy."

"The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire was one of the original plaintiffs in this case, and while we are pleased with this verdict, we must ensure that further attempts to restrict voting rights in New Hampshire will be curtailed by this ruling," Tentarelli said. "We will continue to be vigilant if more voter suppression bills move forward in the fall.”

The state Supreme Court decision Friday comes a day after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld two election laws in Arizona that opponents said make it more difficult for minorities to vote. As a result of the ruling, election law experts said it will make it harder for minority groups to challenge voting laws across the country.

Republican state lawmakers across the country have been working to institute restrictive voting laws, especially in the wake of the 2020 election.