Today I went to the embarrassment that is the NH State Supreme Court today and watched the NH Attorney General’s Office representative, in the most recent incarnation of the “Mobile Domicile” case, stutter and hem and haw his way to its illogical end. This NH AG lawyer, a Mr. Labonte, stood there as Justice Hughes said all it takes to be a voter in NH is to be an inhabitant and 18 years of age. Labonte never flinched.
The quote from the Supreme Court Justice missed the mark a bit but Mr. Labonte let him get away with it.
Here is what the NH Constitution says in regards to the qualifications of voters in NH. You will find the meat of it is in the first two sentences of Part I Article 11:
[Art.] 11. [Elections and Elective Franchises.] All elections are to be free, and every inhabitant of the state of 18 years of age and upwards shall have an equal right to vote in any election. Every person shall be considered an inhabitant for the purposes of voting in the town, ward, or unincorporated place where he has his domicile.
But Mr. Labonte either wasn’t smart enough or inclined to point that out to Justice Hughes. No, he was stuck on keeping a wide gap in the meaning of “residence” for voting purposes, and the word “domicile’ which is a legal term for “legal residence.” Everyone knows that but because all the parties seem bent on finding a way to allow non-resident college students to vote in NH, we pretend words don’t mean what they mean in Black’s Law Dictionary, countless election law cases, 49 other states, and federal elections.
Here is the Guare v. NH case:
Funny thing about the meaning of “residence” for voting in New Hampshire and the lead plaintiff in this fiasco, though.
The lead plaintiff this time is one Annemarie Guare of Bangor, Maine. She has, according to Mr. Labonte, stated that the term “resident” in our election laws was confusing and that is why the NH ACLU and NH League of Women Voters is challenging a part of the law that says that upon becoming a voter in NH you have to obey all NH laws, such as registering a car and getting a NH driver’s license.
In Maine, Election Laws come under Title 21-A where Maine voters have certain familiar requirements.
See if this makes sense.
Annemarie is a Maine voter, and driver, who does not understand NH Election Laws and feels disenfranchised.
Here is the Maine requirement to be a registered voter:
§111. General qualifications
A person who meets the following requirements may vote in any election in a municipality, including a biennial municipal caucus held pursuant to section 311. [2005, c. 387, §1 (AMD).]
1. Citizenship. The person must be a citizen of the United States.
[ 2005, c. 387, §1 (AMD) .]
2. Age. The person must be at least 18 years of age, except that, to vote in a political party's primary election or municipal caucus, the person must be at least 18 years of age as of the date of the next general election.
[ 2005, c. 387, §1 (AMD) .]
3. Residence. The person must have established and maintain a voting residence in that municipality.
[ 2005, c. 387, §1 (AMD) .]
Apparently this college student knows that she had to give a legal address for a “residence” in Maine to vote there and to get a Maine driver’s license, but she comes to NH and pays out-of-state tuition to UNH. That must be a brain teaser.
Annemarie Guare also wants to vote here in NH but stay a Maine “resident.” No wonder she might be confused. But it isn’t NH’s fault.
Here is another Maine Election Law:
§112. Residence for voting purposes
1. Residence. The residence of a person is that place where the person has established a fixed and principal home to which the person, whenever temporarily absent, intends to return.
A. The following factors may be offered by an applicant and considered by a registrar in determining a person's residence under this section. The registrar need not find all of these factors to be present in order to conclude that an applicant qualifies to register to vote in the municipality:
(1) A direct statement of intention by the person pursuant to section 121, subsection 1;
(2) The location of any dwelling currently occupied by the person;
(6) The place where any motor vehicle owned by the person is registered;
(8) The residence address, not a post office box, shown on a current income tax return;
(9) The residence address, not a post office box, at which the person's mail is received;
(10) The residence address, not a post office box, shown on any current resident hunting or fishing licenses held by the person;
(12) The residence address, not a post office box, shown on any motor vehicle operator's license held by the person;
(14) The receipt of any public benefit conditioned upon residency, defined substantially as provided in this subsection; or
(16) Any other objective facts tending to indicate a person's place of residence. [2009, c. 253, §10 (AMD).]
In Maine, the term “residence” for voting means “legal residence” or for a more correct description, “domicile” as our NH Founding Fathers used in our Constitution.
Somehow, Annemarie Guare managed to cope with that linguistic treachery in Maine where she found a way to get a driver’s license and register to vote. Her complaint is nothing more than attempt to steal a vote from a qualified NH voter through our court system. Annemarie Guare is in no way disenfranchised by our election laws or by the State of Maine. But she is, as the other litigants were before her, a pawn in a cynical attempt to flood NH with out-of-state voters.
One thing I noticed during today’s hearing. No one referenced Black’s Law Dictionary to find the meaning of the words that were so important to the case?
Watch this stupid case drag on beyond 2016.