Supreme Court sides with state in SB 3 case

NASHUA – A week of contention and confusion regarding the state’s SB 3 voter registration law culminated Friday with the New Hampshire Supreme Court issuing a 5-0 decision against the Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters.

That means the requirements of SB 3 will be in place for the Nov. 6 general election.

“Young people who choose to call New Hampshire home should have the confidence to know that when they go to the polls, they are being joined by their friends and neighbors — not by out-of-state visitors who wish to disrupt our electoral outcomes,” state Young Republicans Chairman Joe Sweeney said in cheering the Friday action.

Justices Robert Lynn, Gary Hicks, James Bassett, Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi and Patrick Donovan unanimously sided with with the state in moving to overturn the Monday injunction issued by Hillsborough County Superior Court-North Judge Kenneth Brown.

In their Friday order, the justices state Brown’s Monday action “creates both a substantial risk of confusion and disruption of the orderly conduct of the election.” They further state that Brown’s order may take effect … after the Nov. 6 general election.

“Voters across the state can now be assured that this election will proceed as planned, with integrity, and that the modest provisions of SB 3 will protect and guarantee every person’s right to vote,” Republican Gov. Chris Sununu said in response.

State House Majority Whip. Rep. Kathleen Hoelzel, R-Raymond, also hailed the ruling.

“I’m glad the Supreme Court has resolved this matter for the time being, however, the lower court’s order and the publicity it has caused has now created questions in the minds of the public,” she said. “The bill is supposed to protect the integrity of the elections, and now we have people questioning why the judges are involved in making the laws, and creating confusion at the last minute.”

“This common sense decision will eliminate any unnecessary confusion this coming election day and is a victory for New Hampshire voters,” added state Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead.

Democrats took much different views on the development.

“New Hampshire should not target college students and silence their voices. As #nhgov, I will seek to repeal both voter suppression bills signed by @ChrisSununu. They are a solution in search of a problem – and they are wrong for our state,” Democratic gubernatorial nominee Molly Kelly tweeted shortly after learning of the decision.

State Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley called the move a “setback for New Hampshire’s electoral integrity.”

“We will have the resources in the field to assist any voters confused by this unconstitutional law,” he added of Election Day efforts.

U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., who is also a former governor, shared her disapproval via Twitter.

“Disappointed in today’s NH Supreme Court ruling. Voting is the most fundamental right of our democracy and we must work to protect that right, not suppress it,” Hassan posted.