The New Hampshire Supreme Court adopted a congressional redistricting plan Tuesday, one day before the filing period opens for candidates in the upcoming elections.
New Hampshire is one of the last states to adopt a plan as required every 10 years to reflect population changes, although maps in several other states still are being challenged in court. In the end, the new map doesn’t differ drastically from the old: It moves just five towns — Albany, Campton, Jackson, New Hampton and Sandwich — from the 1st District to the 2nd.
The court took action after Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed two maps approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature that would have given the GOP an advantage in the 1st District.
“It is now undisputed that a demonstrated impasse has occurred,” the court said in its unanimous order.
Under both the old and new maps, the 1st District covers the eastern part of the state and some of the south, including Manchester. The 2nd District covers the western, northern and some southern communities, including Nashua.
Though Democrats hold both seats, the 1st District seat flipped five times in seven election cycles before Democrat Chris Pappas won his first term in 2018. One of the vetoed plans would have created a 1st District that climbed up from the southeast corner through the middle of the state, with the 2nd District reaching up and around it. The other would have put both U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster and Pappas in the 2nd District by reassigning his home city of Manchester.
In his veto message, Sununu said putting both incumbents in the same district was unacceptable, as was creating a single district dominated by the state’s largest cities. As for the first plan, he said voters expect districts that hold incumbents accountable “so that no one elected official is immune from challengers.”
“Appropriately apportioned congressional districts are vital to a representative government,” he said.