A proposed resolution in New Hampshire rallies conservative, libertarian and liberal college students around a central cause —
The New Hampshire House of Representatives is currently considering House Bill 176, sponsored by Representative Gregory Sorg (R-Easton). This bill, if passed, will redefine residency, including a new section entitled “Voters Attending Institutions of Learning.”
Hey, that’s us.
This would mean that students would be prevented from casting their votes in the towns they attend college in, unless they can prove residency before enrollment.
As students have traditionally left local elections alone in New Hampshire and have instead voted largely in state and national elections, the people most impacted by this legislation would be the tens of thousands of “out-of-state” students who attend colleges in New Hampshire. Even though 9 months of the year would be spent in New Hampshire, they would be required to vote in their home towns or not at all.
A proponent of the bill, New Hampshire Chairman of the Rules Committee William O’Brien (R-Hillsborough), was quoted by The Dartmouth as saying that the reason for the redefinition was to return to “The basic principles of ensuring residency” and protect the “integrity of the ballot process.” In a statement made to the New Hampshire Union, an organization of conservative activists, O’Brien reportedly told the group that college students registering to vote on Election Day “are basically doing what I did when I was a kid and foolish, voting as a liberal.”
(Representative O’Brien can be reached at email@example.com , or by phone at (603) 271-3661.)
Don’t Forget the Military!
College students are not the only ones adversely affected by this legislation. The “foolish,” “liberal” kids may well be reined in by HB 176, but the bill also applies to federal employees and members of the armed services posted in New Hampshire. These individuals would be similarly unable to change their domicile and instead “shall be presumed to have departed from such other place for a temporary purpose with the intention of returning.”
Presumption — always a winning policy. Of course we should presume that those serving in the military aren’t really interested in having a say in the state they are protecting.
Another interesting angle –the last few weeks have seen an explosion of Facebook groups, meetings and a temporary thaw between student political groups. At The University of New Hampshire conservatives and libertarians have joined forces to create the Multipartisan Young Peoples’ Initiative to Fight HB 176. College Democrats from the same University have created a non-partisan Facebook campaign against the legislation. The name of the game is cooperation – it seems that political differences are not barriers to cooperation when the alternative is losing your voice.
Caitria O’Neill is a Staff Writer for the Harvard Political Review.
Photo Credit: BuzzardBlog