New Hampshire Redistricting Cases:  the 1990s

McGovern v. Secretary of State, 138 N.H. 128, 635 A.2d 498 (N.H. 1993)

Part II, article 9, of the New Hampshire Constitution provides for equal population of legislative districts by requiring that members of the House of Representatives be apportioned among the towns, wards, and places of the State to provide representation "as equal as circumstances will admit."  No town, ward, or place may be divided in the formation of a House district.

The Legislature enacted an apportionment plan that allocated nine representatives to the districts that comprised the towns of Portsmouth and Newington, even though an exact mathematical allocation would have been 9.71 representatives. The plan allocated 13 representatives to the districts that comprised the towns of Salem and Windham, although their mathematical allocation would have been12.53. The nine members elected from the Portsmouth/Newington districts challenged the plan as violating the State Constitution on the ground that the allocations should have been 10 and 12, rather than 9 and 13.

The Supreme Court of New Hampshire affirmed the order of the Superior Court of Rockingham County dismissing the petition. It found that the Legislature had not abused its discretion in deciding which of the two to round up and which to round down and in considering, as one factor, the presumed population drop in the Portsmouth/Newington area due to the closing of Pease Air Force Base after the 1990 census.

 State Contacts
Curtis Barry 
Senior Legislative Assistant 
Majority Office, Room 308 
107 North Main Street 
Concord, NH 03301 
603/271-3663 voice 
603/271-3309 fax
Pam Smarling
Committee Researcher
House of Representatives 
33 North State Street 
Concord, NH 03301 
603/271-3600 voice 
603/271-6689 fax