Has New Hampshire just enacted a poll tax?

Poll taxes were outlawed by the 24th Amendment, at least with respect to elections for Federal office. But

Unless there’s some hairsplitting difference between taxes and fees, this certainly strikes me as an attempt to deny the right to vote “by reason of failure to pay” a tax (see below). And it clearly applies to Federal as well as state elections.

The 24th Amendment:

Is it as slam-dunk a violation of the 24th Amendment as it looks to me, or is there something I’m missing here?

many states that require an ID for voting give out free photo IDs from the DMV which are not driver’s licenses. That’s the way they get around the idea of a poll tax. Maybe NH is planning to do that too. That’s what they did here in NC before voter ID was thrown out by courts. This Nov. they have put an amendment on the ballot for voter ID for a yes/no vote to get around the ID law being thrown out by federal court.

Not a poll tax.

The law does not charge a fee to vote. It simply lays out two mandates:

(1) You must be a resident of New Hampshire to vote in New Hampshire, and

(2) You cannot claim to be a resident in order to vote but then disclaim residency for other purposes, such as obtaining a New Hampshire driver’s license.

More specifically, New Hampshire has a rule similar to many other states: if you are a resident, you must within a timely fashion register yourself as a driver in New Hampshire as opposed to using another state’s license.

You don’t have to get a New Hampshire license. But if you live in New Hampshire as a resident you can’t drive on another state’s license.

That article makes it sound like you’ll have to have a NH driver’s license to vote, but when I dig a little deeper, I think that’s a misrepresentation.

Here’s what seems to be a clearer and more informative article on the issue. IIUC they’re just trying to exclude, for example, college students who have permanent registry and driver’s licenses in other states but who are (temporarily) going to college in New Hampshire.

Conversely, you are free to keep your Colorado residency and merely keep a domicile in New Hampshire. But then you can’t vote in New Hampshire. You should vote in Colorado.

What if I become indigent after moving to New Hampshire? Can I not vote unless I pay money for a New Hampshire drivers license?

That only applies to people who drive. Which isn’t a requirement for voting.

The article did state this: “New Hampshire is currently the only state without a residency requirement for voting” so I’m not seeing the big deal about it.

Since you are a textualist, I would suggest reading the actual Constitution again.

The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other election for President or Vice President for electors for President or Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to pay any poll tax or other tax.

By the plain reading of the text, it is not merely poll taxes that are forbidden, but any tax being used as a reason to deny someone the right to vote.

There would be no reason to include “or other tax” portion if only poll taxes were a problem.

Strict interpretation means that this is illegal.

A residency requirement isn’t the issue, as far as I can tell. It’s requiring a driver’s license, which is not free.

Of course you can.

If you are indigent you may acquire a Photo ID card for used for voting identification only, issued by the New Hampshire DMV pursuant to RSA 260:21.

Correct. And a driver’s license isn’t a requirement for voting.

This is not complicated.

New Hampshire says, “Look, we have a rule that if your residence is here, and you drive, you need to have a New Hampshire driver’s license.”

Now they have a new rule: if you claim your residence is here for voting purposes, you must also admit your residence is here for other purposes. You can’t say “I’m a resident of New Hampshire,” to the registrar for voting and then say to the DMV, “I don’t need a New Hampshire license because I’m already licensed in Vermont.”


Hmmmm…Let me throw this one out to you - “If I want to vote in New Hampshire, do I need to have a license to drive issued by New Hampshire?”

:eek: :smack:

RTFirefly, in your summary of the issue in the OP, quoting from the news article, why did you not mention that the New Hampshire Supreme Court has issued an advisory opinion that the law is constitutional? I would have thought that’s an important part of the story.

Okay. So, I am a MA resident with an MA driver’s license. I spend every dime I have to move to NH. I go to register to vote. They ask me to provide a driver’s license. They will not accept my driver’s license from MA because NH law requires me to get a NH license to drive in that state if I claim residency there. I cannot afford to do that.

But they are not denying me the right to vote because I can get a free NH ID, I just can’t drive in NH?

Here’s a wild and crazy idea; let’s look at the text of the bill and see what it says about driver’s licences and fees.

If I’ve done my on-line research correctly, this appears to be the text of the bill, from the New Hampshire Legislature’s web-page. Words in bold italic were added in the legislative process; words in [del]strike-out[/del] were deleted.

That’s odd. It doesn’t say anything at all about driver’s licences and fees.

It’s almost as if the bill doesn’t address them!

It’s almost as if proponents of the bill have been asked what the bill means by requiring a voter to demonstrate a “current intent to designate that place of abode” as their “principal place of physical presence”, and the proponents have said, "well, having a New Hampshire driving permit is a good indicator that you mean New Hampshire to be your ‘principal place of physical presence’, but if you’ve got a driver permit from some other state that may mean you’re not making New Hampshire your ‘principal place’ ".

In other words, driver permits are a fact to take into account in determining if you’ve made New Hampshire your “principal place”.

And then opponents of the bill are taking that example of a possible factor as if it’s part of the law.

Unless I’m missing something, and there’s some related bill that deals with driver permits? I’m certainly open to correction.

Sounds right to me. And if you literally cannot afford the fee for a driver’s license in NH, yeah, you can’t drive there, whether you moved from MA or lived in NH all your life. Don’t most states require you to get a driver’s license issued by that state when you move there permanently from out of state?