Lucas Meyer

Lucas Meyer, president of the New Hampshire Young Democrats, testifies at a hearing on Senate Bill 3 at Hillsborough County Superior Court in Manchester on Aug. 27, 2018.

MANCHESTER — Witnesses testified Monday about confusion and delays that they said resulted from a 2017 state law tightening voter registration procedures.

The testimony came as a trial challenging the law entered its second week in Hillsborough County Superior Court North.

The League of Women Voters has challenged the law, known as Senate Bill 3, claiming the changes made under the 2017 measure violate the equal protection clause of the state constitution and present a burden to an individual’s right to vote.

Monday’s witnesses included Lucas Meyer, president of New Hampshire Young Democrats, and Alan Cronheim, a Portsmouth attorney who discussed his work as an election observer and member of the state Democratic Party’s election protection team in Durham.

Cronheim testified about long lines of people attempting to register on election day for the 2018 state primary and general election.

He described lengthy wait times, which he attributed to changes brought about by SB 3, including a requirement to show documents establishing voters’ domicile.

“It was a focus of concern with voters. They would ask questions about it,” Cronheim said. “There was now other independent information needed as a consequence of SB 3.”

Cooley Arroyo, an attorney for Cleveland, Waters and Bass in Concord and part of the team representing the state, questioned whether Cronheim could definitively link the lines and waits he described to the requirements under SB 3.

Cronheim acknowledged to Arroyo that lines are common on election day and that although he had timed the waits some voters experienced registering on the day of the primary, he could only estimate the waits for voters who registered on the day of the general election.

“That’s my common sense and my belief,” said Cronheim, who acknowledged in a response to a follow-up question that he had not heard specific conversations between potential voters and the volunteers trying to get them registered.

“I couldn’t hear the particular conversations. I could see what was going on,” Cronheim said.

Meyer, who took the stand in the afternoon following a lunch break, discussed an effort to inform college students of the requirements brought about by SB 3 and to make them aware — before election day — of what they would need in order to register onsite.

“This was going to take a lot of education and a lot of effort,” Meyer said.

Meyer said he felt the bill was an attempt to disenfranchise college-age voters, which he wanted to counter by making students aware of their rights and preparing them for the new registration process. Confusion and rumors can spread quickly in a long line of people waiting to vote, Meyer said, ultimately discouraging them from taking part.

“That was certainly a serious concern of ours,” Meyer said while being questioned by Bill Christie, an attorney with Shaheen & Gordon representing the plaintiffs in the case.

When asked by attorney Bryan Gould, also part of the state defense team, whether he could name any eligible voters who were prevented from casting a ballot because of SB 3 or who had left the polling place without voting because of the law, Meyer acknowledged he could not.

Testimony before Judge David A. Anderson is scheduled to continue Tuesday with additional witnesses. The trial could wrap up as early as Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020