CONCORD, N.H. (AP) —
College students can vote in New Hampshire even if they are living elsewhere during the coronavirus pandemic, provided they have previously established residency in the state, the attorney general’s office said Wednesday.
The New Hampshire Republican Party had argued that college students attending classes remotely during the pandemic shouldn’t be allowed to vote in their college towns if they don’t have a current address in those communities.
A party lawyer recently asked the state to instruct local officials that they must confirm a current residential address before allowing students to register to vote or receive absentee ballots. But in a letter Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Chong Yen said once a student lawfully establishes a domicile in New Hampshire, the student doesn’t lose that status due to temporary absence.
“Any person - including a student - who has established a domicile in New Hampshire consistent with (state law) but who is temporarily absent from the state by virtue of the COVID-19 pandemic or any other reason, remains domiciled within the state unless he or she establishes domicile elsewhere,” he wrote to GOP Attorney Sean List.
Someone who has never established a physical presence in New Hampshire can not be domiciled in the state for voting purposes, however, which would suggest that freshmen who never arrived on campus and are studying remotely would not be allowed to vote in their college towns.
Crime victims will not have their testimony broadcast online without their consent under new court rules in New Hampshire aimed at balancing public health and public access to jury trials during the coronavirus pandemic.
After being suspended for six months, Superior Court trials resumed in late August, with limited in-person attendance and online livestreaming to allow the public to view the proceedings. But the rules drew complaints from the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence after Cheshire County Attorney Chris McLaughlin said his office was forced to drop second-degree assault charges against a college student because the victim backed out of testifying when she learned her testimony would be broadcast online.
Court officials said Wednesday they worked with the coalition, prosecutors and defense attorneys to develop new rules. Going forward, if a victim does not consent to a livestream, the court will reserve space in the courtroom for public access.
“The Judicial Branch has worked during these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 pandemic to develop a plan that allows us to resume criminal jury trials in a safe manner while making sure we provide constitutionally sufficient public access to our courts,” said Chief Justice of the Superior Court Tina Nadeau. “We have determined this revised policy would better ensure an appropriate balance between the defendant’s and public’s right to observe jury trials during the COVID-19 pandemic and victims’ rights to prevent their identity from being spread across the Internet.”
As of Tuesday, 9,828 people had tested positive for the virus in New Hampshire, an increase of 85 from the previous day. The number of deaths stood at 468.
The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in New Hampshire has decreased over the past two weeks from 71 new cases per day on Oct. 6 to 67 new cases per day on Oct. 20.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.