Keene State College students using a preferred name may run into trouble at the primary polls.

In August of 2015, KSC set in motion a new policy allowing students use a preferred first name on KSC information systems like email, class rosters and Owl cards (student ID card).

A preferred name is the name by which you would most like to be called or referred to by. For example: a common preferred name for William is Bill.

According to a document released on the New Hampshire’s Secretary of State office’s website titled “ Voter ID Explanatory Document”, a student ID is an acceptable form of photo ID to register to vote because KSC is part of the university system of New Hampshire.

However, since KSC and other New Hampshire colleges like UNH have a preferred name policy, a student ID with a preferred name becomes an unacceptable form of ID. This conflict could potentially turn away many transgender voters who make use of the preferred name policy on campus. It also put these students at risk of being outed and limits the amount of voices being heard by this demographic of voters.

Associate Professor of Communication and Philosophy and Chair of Preferred First  Name Working Group at KSC Jamie Landau said, “It is very clear that a preferred name is not a legal name change.” Therefore the name that is on a student’s ID is not a legal form of identification.

“There could be a moment of someone being outed as a trans person because if your license says something different than your student ID, it will because these students who are choosing a preferred name have not gone through a legal name change. I spoke to KSC Pride members to be aware that they probably will be asked to provide other forms of identification because the name may not match and they will be outed,” Landau said.

Landau said she has concerns for trans students because the policy is part of a recognized safe space at KSC but it does not necessarily secure a safe space off campus.

KSC senior Kennedy Redden, who was a preferred name user until he legally changed his name this past year, said that he used to send in absentee ballots when voting and did so for the upcoming primary as well.

“I think it can give someone a lot of anxiety. I’m sure for the people at the polls it’s probably just routine and you just hand your stuff over and get your ballot, but for some people who aren’t as comfortable, it could be really detrimental,” Redden said.

For students who are concerned about being turned away at the polls for not having a second acceptable form of identification, New Hampshire Deputy for the Secretary of State David Scanlan said there are other options.

“People who are unable to provide an acceptable form of ID can submit a challenge voter affidavit,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan said that the affidavit process is simple and can be done that day at the polls.

“Usually there will be a person at a table for people who do not have an acceptable form of ID and then they will fill the form out, a photo will be taken of the person and then they will be given a ballot and proceed to vote,” Scanlan said.

Program manager and aid to campus group American Democracy Project Kim Schmidl-Gagne said, “This is where campus policy and what you need to vote are in conflict with each other.”

According to the State’s ‘Voter ID Explanatory Document”, these are the acceptable forms of ID’s needed to vote:

Driver’s license issued by any state or federal government;

Non-driver ID card issued by NH DMV or motor vehicle agency of another state

Photo ID card for “voting identification only” issued by NH DMV (RSA 260:21)  

United States armed services identification card

United States passport or passcard

NH student ID card (see more information below)

A photo ID not mentioned above, but determined to be legitimate by the moderator, supervisors of the checklist, or clerk of a town, ward or city. If any person authorized to challenge a voter does so under this provision, the voter shall be required to fill out a challenged voter affidavit before obtaining a ballot.

Verification of the voter’s identity by a moderator or supervisor of the checklist or clerk of a town, ward or city (not a ballot clerk). If any person authorized to challenge a voter does so under this provision, the voter shall be required to fill out a challenged voter affidavit before obtaining a ballot.

For students who live on campus and may not be able to provide a proof of residency, City of Keene Clerk Patricia Little confirmed that KSC provides the city with a domicile list for all students.

The New Hampshire primary will take place on Feb. 9, and polling stations in Keene will be open from 8 a.m to 7 p.m. Reference page A1 of The Equinox to learn where to vote and how to get there.

Kendall Pope can be contacted at

Share and Enjoy !