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Friday, March 16, 2012

House endorses linking residency for voting and car registration

CONCORD – The House endorsed legislation providing a legal link between residency for voting and having to register one’s motor vehicle in the state.

The House approved the bill, 224-84.

Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, said state law is already meant to compel those who claim they are residents and get a ballot that within 60 days of that election they must get an in-state registration.

“This bill attempts to clarify that anybody who registers to vote in New Hampshire must be a New Hampshire resident and therefore must comply with the motor vehicle registration law,” Bates said. “This is not a new requirement; this does not represent any change in policy.”

This amended bill, HB 1478, would reduce that timing requirement to 40 days.

Rep. Gary Richardson, D-Hopkinton, said under current law college students who live outside the state or “snow birds” who spend much of the year down south can register their cars elsewhere.

Rep. David Pierce, D-Hanover, said he was concerned this legislation could cost some constituents hundreds of dollars.

“We may be forcing our constituents to pay double government fees,” Pierce said. “If other states have similar requirements, then we are requiring them to register our car here and other states are requiring them to register there.”

The measure is part of the House majority agenda of top priority bills, along with a related one the House approved last month that brings uniformity to residency laws, including those relating to voting, insurance, motor vehicle and other subjects.