With the upcoming election, the news has become swamped with stories of states attempting to restrict voter rights, in particular targeting marginalized people (immigrants and people of color) and the youth vote. Unfortunately, the battle that has occurred in states such as Florida, Georgia and Tennessee was brought home to New Hampshire this past year with the (nearly exclusively) Republican Party push for more restrictive voting laws. Currently, the law was repealed in part by the New Hampshire Supreme Court and as it stands, out-of-state students are allowed to vote in their college towns. However, there is still much at risk nationally—democracy, the very principle on which our country was founded, is effectively and efficiently being threatened.

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According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 16 states have passed restrictive voting laws that have the potential to greatly impact the 2012 election. These 16 states represent 212 electoral votes, or 78 percent of the total electoral votes needed for a presidential candidate to win. With over 75 percent of electoral votes coming from states where these laws have gained a stronghold, our country is facing the consequence of over 200 years of schizophrenic beliefs regarding democracy and the rights of voters. Although our country was built upon the ideal of one “man,” one vote, in a historical framework this seemingly ambiguous language masks a racist and sexist agenda, one where women and people of color were never even considered active participants of government. In 2012, our external beliefs have changed drastically—women and other marginalized groups are no longer viewed as overtly as second-class citizens—however we are still struggling against deeply ingrained racialized and gendered perspectives about citizenship and voting rights. The new push to restrict these rights clearly marks a backlash against the progress that marginalized people have gained in the past 50 years.

If we as citizens continue to sit back and allow our fundamental rights to vote without restrictions (whether economically through requiring a driver’s license or politically through uneven redistricting), we are effectively turning our back on our history as politically active participants of democracy. Although our political structure has proven problematic in the past, we have the potential to reframe and rework this broken system and use it in our favor as young voters and citizens. Voting restrictions are facing many people this election, and so it is of critical importance that we as New Hampshire college students and citizens vote with our voices, actions, and representatives, in the attempt to combat the current assault on our rights and democracy.


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