THE STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In Case No. 2002-0243, Petition of Senator Clifton Below & a., the court on May 23, 2002, issued the following order:
The legislature, having recessed without adopting a reapportionment plan for the 2002 elections, has failed to comply with Part II, Article 9 of the New Hampshire Constitution. See order dated May 17, 2002. Therefore, in order to guarantee to the people of New Hampshire the "equal right to vote" provided by Part I, Article 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution and equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the Court is constitutionally obligated to establish a reapportionment plan for the Senate.
Henceforth, the parties to this case are: the petitioners, the Senate President, the Senate and the Secretary of State. It is the courts intention to permit each party to submit a written proposal for the courts consideration in devising its constitutional reapportionment plan. On Tuesday, May 28, 2002, the Court shall issue an order setting forth the requirements for written proposals and other materials to be filed with the Court. Proposals must be filed on or before 12:00 Noon on Thursday, June 6, 2002. The court intends, if necessary, to hear oral argument on the parties proposals on June 11, 2002 at 10:00 a.m. before adopting the final reapportionment plan for the Senate. No request for a continuance will be entertained.
The courts primary consideration in adopting a reapportionment plan is that it satisfy the federal and state constitutional principle of one person/one vote. Accordingly, it intends to adopt a plan that has districts "as nearly equal as may be in population," as provided by Part II, Article 26. It may not be possible to consider other factors such as geographical contiguity, community of interest, or configuration of existing districts, or to give full effect to the constitutional provision relating to the division of towns, wards or places.
If a reapportionment plan is validly enacted before the Court adopts a plan, the court will terminate this proceeding.
The order issued on May 17, 2002 enjoining the June 5, 2002 filing date remains in effect but shall expire automatically if a validly enacted plan is adopted by 12:01 a.m. on June 5, 2002.
The Secretary of State shall inform the court in writing by 12:00 Noon Tuesday, May 28, 2002, of the time that he believes will be required to print and distribute ballots in advance of a 2002 primary election for the purpose of nominating candidates for the Senate.
All non-budgeted costs incurred by the Court associated with this case, including but not limited to, computer program costs and the cost of one or more technical assistants shall be paid by the State Treasurer.
Brock, C.J., Nadeau, Dalianis, and Duggan, JJ., concurred.