ACLU files amicus brief in gerrymandering lawsuit

Jan. 24—The ACLU of New Hampshire filed a friend-of-the-court brief late last week in the gerrymandering lawsuit, Miles Brown, et al v. Secretary of State, detailing the nonprofit's analysis of state Senate and Executive Council maps that claim they are "gerrymandered" along partisan lines.

"New Hampshire voters are facing unfair electoral maps that are designed to cheat the system and give one party an unfair advantage at winning seats for office," said Henry Klementowicz, Senior Staff Attorney at the ACLU of New Hampshire, in a statement. "We'll never stop saying it: every Granite State voice should be heard equally in our elections, and it should be the voters themselves that choose their politicians. We hope that the New Hampshire Supreme Court will agree and reverse the dismissal of this case."

Back in October a Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit Democratic activists and other voters brought, challenging the constitutionality of redistricting plans the Republican-led Legislature created for the state Senate and Executive Council.

A group of 10 residents, including former House Speaker Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, charged the redistricting plans were "partisan gerrymanders that defy the basic principles of representative government."

The suit argued the new maps violated the Bill of Rights in the New Hampshire Constitution that guarantees every citizen has an "equal right to vote."

ACLU-NH claims, according to results from the Secretary of State's office, Republican candidates for Executive Council received 301,723 votes statewide, and Democratic candidates for Executive Council received 303,233 votes, "yet, Republican candidates won four out of the five seats."

In races for state Senate, Republican candidates received 293,299 votes statewide, and Democratic candidates received 299,382 votes. Republican candidates won 14 of the 24 seats, ACLU-NH points out.

The brief argues state courts in New Hampshire are empowered and required to address unconstitutional actions by other branches of government, and because the New Hampshire Constitution prohibits partisan gerrymandering, they should take on this case.

Plaintiffs have appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, and the brief asks the state Supreme Court to reverse the Superior Court's dismissal and send it back to Superior Court to continue the case.