CONCORD - The House Election Law committee today voted to recommend passage of CACR 17. CACR 17 is a constitutional amendment proposal that would insert into the state constitution after Part I , Article 11 one sentence that says ¡°[Only Residents May Vote.] No person may establish a domicile for the purpose of voting unless he or she is a resident of the town, ward, or unincorporated place where he or she seeks to vote.¡± The positive recommendation passed by a vote along party lines, with Republicans unanimously supporting the measure.
¡°For most of the history of our state it was accepted and understood that a person had to be a resident of New Hampshire in order to vote here. In recent years that understanding has evolved and now people who are residents of other states are participating in our elections if they simply claim they are domiciled somewhere in the state for voting purposes,¡± said House Majority Whip Kathy Hoelzel (R-Raymond), Chair of the House Election Law Committee.
The voter domicile issue was recently litigated in Guare vs. The State of New Hampshire. On July 24, 2014, Superior Court Judge Brian Tucker issued an order in which he wrote ¡°a citizen need not be a resident of New Hampshire in order to vote in this state.¡± The state appealed the case to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and lost.
¡°For those New Hampshire citizens who believe that residents of other states should not vote in our elections, there is no option left but to amend the state constitution to explicitly require voters to be residents. CACR 17 proposes to do just that. During the committee process no one offered testimony stating any reason why any resident of another state should be permitted to vote in our elections. This legislation is necessary to protect the votes of all legitimate residents of our state from being diluted by the votes of people who are not residents of New Hampshire,¡± offered Rep. David Bates (R-Windham), prime sponsor of the bill.
CACR 17 will now move forward for a vote by the full House sometime in March. If approved by a ¨ø majority by the House and Senate CACR 17 will appear on the November ballot. A ¨ø majority of the popular vote is required in order to ratify the state constitution.