On March 8, the Washington Post reported that the New Hampshire state legislature is considering bills that would limit the voting rights of college students. The Bullet wishes to take a moment to reflect on the merits of these bills.
One bill in question, sponsored by Rep. Gregory Sorg (R), would prevent students from voting in their college towns unless their parents had previously established permanent residency. Theoretically, students that fail to meet this requirement would be disenfranchised from voting in a district where they live for nine months a year.
This bill is an affront to the rights of students who are currently eligible to vote.
In addition, another bill being considered by New Hampshire’s Republican legislature would prevent election-day registration, which House Speaker William O’Brien said would create opportunities for voter fraud.
Minnesota, Maine, Wisconsin, Idaho, New Hampshire and Wyoming are the only states that allow same-day voter registration. While it is New Hampshire’s prerogative to change this law, paired with the previous bill, the intention of the lawmakers is to create another election-day barrier by preventing even college students that reside off-campus from voting.
It is the state’s right to establish election rules and procedures. However, the courts have affirmed the right of students to vote in the district they reside.
These bills are nothing more than a thinly veiled, partisan attempt to prevent core Democratic blocks from voting in the 2012 Presidential elections.
In a Town Hall address, Sorg condescendingly chastised college voters, saying, “Their youthful idealism is focused on remaking the world, with themselves in charge, of course, rather than with the mundane humdrum of local government.”
It is unbelievable that a politician today would shame any group of people from having ideals. His rebuke betrays a desire to concentrate power in the hands of Republican political machines, rather than allowing for the free and fair elections that a democracy requires.
The United States has made considerable progress since the start of the 20th century in extending the right to vote. It would be a shame for New Hampshire to turn back the clock in a clearly partisan attempt to disenfranchise young voters just because they trend democratic.