The New Hampshire State Senate passed Senate Bill 3 with all 14 republicans in favor and all nine democrats in opposition. During the Presidential Election last semester students had to provide proof of residency when registering at the polls to vote. However, this bill will hinder student voters and make that process much more difficult.
This is even more true for out-of-state student voters, but college students aren’t the only demographics Senate Bill 3 (SB3) would affect. The idea behind SB3 is to heighten protection revolving around voter fraud in the state. After being passed through the Senate on Mar. 30, 2017, SB3 will make its way to the House. According to http://wmur.com, the House “has a 221-172 GOP majority.” People who would be affected by this would include students, seniors and potentially some members of the military depending on their residency and where they’re voting.
This bill relates to a person’s domicile for voting purposes and would require that person to bring one of the qualified documents when applying to register to vote at the polls that show the applicant most likely has a domicile at the given address.
According to http://gencourt.state.nh.us/, SB 3 – as amended by the senate under the section dealing with registering on election day it states, “If the applicant identifies on his or her application action taken to establish his or her domicile, which he or she has documentation of, he or she must agree to mail a copy of or present the document in person to the city or town clerk within 10 days, or where the town clerk’s office is open fewer than 20 hours weekly, within 30 days.” However, if the voter takes no action to prove the given address is where they’re actually domiciled then it will be investigated.
If supervisors are not able to verify a voter applicant’s domicile then according to SB3 they must send, “Two or more supervisors or municipal, county, or state election officers or their agents to visit the address and verify that the individual was domiciled there on Election Day.” So if information provided appears skeptical or if a voter didn’t further prove his/her residence at his/her given address this intimidating measure can be taken against them.
According to http://wmur.com/, “If the documents are not provided by the deadline, local officials are empowered under the bill to visit the address provided by the voter to check to see if he or she is domiciled there.” The article continues, “Another option is to check the city or town’s records. Or they may ask an ‘agent’ to visit the addresses.”
With more steps needed to be taken to prove the validity of one’s claimed address, more room is allowed for mistakes that would warrant such investigations. Also, according to http://www.wmur.com/, “A voter who provides an address on Election Day and then does not back it up with verifiable documentation of domicile at that address within the 10- or 30-day deadline could be charged with wrongful voting and be subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000.” New or first time voters who aren’t familiar with the voting process may become discouraged and not bother voting all together.
Although this bill doesn’t deny anyone the right to vote, it definitely intimidates and discourages voters from turning out to the polls by making the voting process much more difficult in terms of proving one’s domicile. For example, a temporary seasonal worker from Rockingham County, NH who lives in Coos County, NH for 30 or more days for their work would have to prove they’re residence in Coos is legitimate or make the drive back down to vote in Rockingham.
An out-of-state student voter would have to prove their institution or residency they occupy for the majority of the year for school is in fact their domicile. They’d have to show documentation that this is their address and that they are in fact living there for more than 30 days. This is the same for in state student voters as well. Students would have to prove they actually reside at their given address and jump through these extra hoops, or drive all they back to their home county/state and vote there. Yes we can still vote it just makes the process much trickier.
We at The Equinox realize this bill poses more of an ethical issue than a legal one. We’ve emphasized the importance of voting in the past and the difference millennial votes can make, especially in swing states such as New Hampshire.
This bill appears to suppress the votes of those with more than one residency which is most college students. Also, when looking at millennial college and university students voting results most lean toward the left. Whether strictly affiliated with one party or the other millennial votes still matter equally. In the 2016 election it was more common to see young adults identifying as liberal even if they didn’t claim to be a democrat.
According to //www.brookings.edu, “Only one-third of young adults hold a favorable view of the Republican Party.” Keene is a relatively liberal campus and those liberal votes could be hindered if the House passes SB3.
Keene becomes home to students 9 months out of the year and for some year round. Although the results of elections affect those from the community those who now live and make up that community are affected as well. What happens in elections affects students just as it does community members. We at The Equinox do believe voter protection is necessary and important we just don’t feel the revised wording of the bill is appropriate.