The Bulletin Board

Court approves new congressional map

By: - May 31, 2022 12:19 pm
NH Supreme Court building

The map approved by the court moves only five towns from the 1st District into the 2nd District: Albany, Campton, Jackson, New Hampton, and Sandwich. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

The New Hampshire Supreme Court approved a map Tuesday establishing congressional voting districts for the next 10 years, after the governor and Legislature failed to create a viable plan last week.

The approval comes one day before the filing period for candidates running for office will open.

The map approved by the court moves only five towns from the 1st District into the 2nd District: Albany, Campton, Jackson, New Hampton, and Sandwich. It was drawn by the court-appointed special master, Stanford law professor Nathaniel Persily, and equalizes the population between the two districts while moving the fewest people between districts.

That map was released Friday, and the plan will take effect before the filing period for candidates running for office opens Wednesday, according to the order.

While the Legislature is tasked with redrawing voting districts every 10 years to adjust for population change, a lawsuit asked the court to intervene in the process, pointing to a legislative impasse. On Friday, Gov. Chris Sununu released a veto message for both congressional maps the Legislature put forward: House Bill 52 and Senate Bill 200.

“It is now undisputed that a demonstrated impasse has occurred as a result of the Governor’s May 27 vetoes,” the order states. 

“The citizens of New Hampshire will not accept SB 200, which moves both members of Congress into the same district,” Sununu said in his veto message. “Also by moving Manchester into Congressional District 2 we would be creating a single district dominated by our largest urban areas.”

He said HB 52 was not in the best interest of New Hampshire. “Granite Staters expect districts that hold our incumbents accountable so that no one elected official is immune from challengers or constituent services,” he said.

 John Devaney, an attorney representing former speaker of the House Terie Norelli, who brought the case, argued Tuesday in favor of adopting the map drawn by the special master. 

That would create a map that’s about as competitive as the one that’s been in effect for the past 10 years, one criteria repeatedly referenced by Sununu.

With the filing period for candidates intending to run for an office starting Wednesday, Devaney asked the court to act swiftly.

“Adopt the map today,” he told the court.

He added: “New Hampshire is the only state in the country now that does not have a congressional map, which further highlights the need to act expeditiously, literally, in our view, today so that we have a map and the candidate filing period can begin tomorrow.” 

Counsel for both the speaker of the House and the Senate president declined to take a position on the special master’s map.

Myles Matteson, an attorney representing the Secretary of State’s Office, said the secretary does not intend to extend the filing period for New Hampshire congressional candidates or other races. 

“The secretary is looking to administer an orderly election,” Matteson said. “And so he is taking every step that he can to avoid confusion at this point. That means not extending, not changing any of the requirements for the filing period.”

The filing period will be open from June 1 through June 10.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.