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New Hampshire Supreme Court Steps In to End Redistricting Drama

May 31, 2022 by Dan McCue
New Hampshire Supreme Court Steps In to End Redistricting Drama
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu

CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Tuesday formally approved a congressional district map drawn by a special master, effectively putting an end to the stalemate between the Republicans who control the state Legislature and Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

New Hampshire has only two congressional districts. The court took action after Sununu last week vetoed two maps approved by the Legislature that would have given the GOP an advantage in the 1st District.

Throughout the redistricting process, Sununu said he would oppose any map that would lead to a preordained outcome.

The map he rejected would have made New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District more competitive for Republicans and put two incumbent Democrats, Reps. Chris Pappas and Ann McLane Kuster, in a likely head-to-head battle for reelection in District 2. 

“The citizens of New Hampshire will not accept this map, which moves both (Democrat) members of Congress into the same district. Our races have to be fair, which is why I will veto this map,” Sununu said in a statement.

But the stalemate helped make New Hampshire the butt of some not so gentle ribbing on social media, where critics of both sides chortled over how difficult lawmakers were finding it to draw the single line that defines the two districts.

In the end, the new map is not radically different from the old map, moving just five small towns from one district to the other.

“It is now undisputed that a demonstrated impasse has occurred as a result of the governor’s May 27 vetoes of two congressional redistricting bills, Senate Bill 200 and House Bill 52,” Court Clerk Timothy Gudas wrote in a statement.

The special master was tasked with redrawing a map with just a few changes. The redrawn map moves the towns of Albany, Campton, Jackson, New Hampton and Sandwich from District 1 to District 2.

The court clerk will formally file the map on Wednesday.

“Upon filing, the congressional district plan shall take effect,” Gudas wrote.

With the court’s action, New Hampshire is officially the final state to have to complete its congressional redistricting process. Oregon, the first state to do so, adopted its congressional district map 244 days ago. 

“The New Hampshire Supreme Court’s map is a win for the voters of New Hampshire, who will be able to vote in fair congressional districts in this year’s election,” said Kelly Burton, president of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee, after the court’s decision was announced.

In a written statement, she went on to say that “throughout the redistricting process, Republicans in the New Hampshire General Court arrogantly passed partisan gerrymander after partisan gerrymander, but they were stopped by Gov. Sununu’s veto.” 

“The map adopted by the New Hampshire Supreme Court today is not only a clear rejection against this brazen attempt at political gerrymandering, it is a victory for the voters of New Hampshire who did not stop fighting for fair maps,” Burton said.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and @DanMcCue

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