Dylan Morrill

Equinox Staff


On Monday, Dec. 5 the Office of the Keene City Clerk organized a voter registration drive at Keene State College, in an attempt to allow college students at Keene State to become registered voters before the primary election, which will take place on Jan. 10.

The Office of the City Clerk organizes voter registration drives before every big election to make it as easy as possible for college students to register to vote. “We want to give every college student the opportunity to register now [before they go home for the holidays],” Terri Hood, the assistant city clerk, said. The last drive was held before the 2010 federal elections and the next one is scheduled for sometime before the general election in the fall.

New Hampshire is famous for having the first primary in the country. This timing has helped establish the New Hampshire primary as an important event in determining the next president. It is the second major indicator (the first being the Iowa caucus, which will occur on Jan. 3) of whom the American people want to elect as president.

Jon Huntsman, a current Republican presidetial candidate, is currently putting close to all of his resources into winning the New Hampshire primary because he feels the boost New Hampshire has been known to provide candidates can propel him to victory. His strictly New Hampshire strategy is so well-known in the political community that he even appeared on SNL’s Weekend Update on Nov. 19 in a skit filled with sarcastic, overt pandering to New Hampshire residents.

His strategy may work – eight of the last 10 winners of the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary eventually went on to win the national nomination.

By organizing the voter registration drive, the Office of the City Clerk was hoping to make it as simple as possible for Keene State College student to participate in the historic New Hampshire primaries.

The drive took place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the first floor of the student center. Two tables were set up and all the adequate materials needed for voter registration were sprawled across them. The tables were staffed by four members of the Office of the City Clerk ready to answer any and all questions students may have. The drive lasted three hours.

In total, only four students registered to vote, a significantly smaller number than has been seen in past drives.

Hood was asked after the event why students do not seem interested in the opportunity to participate in the New Hampshire primary. She tried to shed some light on why the drive received so few students.

“A lot of students go home for the holidays,” Hood said.

Keene State College is made up primarily of students who are not originally from Keene. “If students register here, then they have to vote here,” Hood said. Students will still be on winter break when the primary occurs and those who are not from Keene will not be able to vote in Keene, unless they either travel to Keene for the election or request an absentee ballot.”

However, the New Hampshire primary hasn’t always been on Jan. 10. In fact, it has been slowly and consistently moving back on the calendar every election cycle since 1968 when it was held on the second Tuesday in March.

In 1968, other states started moving their primary back to cash in on some of the influence that having an early primary can bring. State law requires that New Hampshire’s primary be the first in the country, so in 1968, New Hampshire, “by law,” had to move theirs further back as well. It has been moving further back ever since. In 2000 the primary occurred on Jan. 27– almost two months before it occurred in 1968.

Fortunately, Hood and the others at the office of the City Clerk expect to get more students interested in registering before the general election, which will be held on Nov. 6, 2012 . All students will be back on campus at this time. “We did very well in 2008, and we are anticipating that we will have quite a few people for the general election [in 2012].”

On a side note, a large percentage of the Keene State College student body is originally from Connecticut and Massachusetts. Both states hold their primary on dates when students will be away from their respective state, either on winter break, or on campus. Joanna Oko, a freshman studying communications, explained the dilemma, “I registered to vote when I turned 18, but I won’t be able to vote (in the primaries), unless I get a mail-in ballot.”


Dylan Morrill can be contacted at dmorill1@ksc.mailcruiser.com



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