College students: New Hampshire is trying to stop us from voting
Five college students sue New Hampshire, saying a new form telling them they must, among other things, register their cars in the state to vote amounts to an illegal 'poll tax.'
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But to try to discourage out-of-state students from voting is “short-sighted” for Republicans, she adds. “In the 1980s, young people voted overwhelmingly for Ronald Reagan … and that generation became the most loyal cohort of Republican voters.”Skip to next paragraph
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There’s also a controversial new voter ID requirement in New Hampshire, though people without ID can sign an affidavit, and some of the stricter parts of the law don’t kick in until 2013. That, combined with the registration form, are making for a confusing landscape for college students, Fowler and other professors say.
Nationally, about 7 out of 10 young people don’t know whether their state requires a photo ID to vote, and 8 out of 10 don’t know about early-registration rules, according to a poll this summer by CIRCLE, a youth-voting research center based at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. (New Hampshire allows registration on Election Day.)
While many students may decide to avoid a hassle and skip voting, or vote in their home states via absentee ballot, there’s a possibility that controversy over the new laws will mobilize young voters here.
“It’s becoming a tool for folks to actually encourage participation,” says Wayne Lesperance, director of the Center for Civic Engagement at New England College in Henniker, N.H. “People from the Obama campaign have said, ‘Look, they are trying to make it harder to vote; if you need a ride to the Department of Motor Vehicles [where state IDs are issued], we’ll take you.' ”
A FAQ sheet on the website of the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire explains there are conflicting laws now regarding whether they need to register a car or get a state driver’s license, and advises students them to contact the state attorney general’s office if they have questions.
But their lawsuit requests Strafford County Superior Court to order the secretary of state to reissue voter registration forms without the new paragraph, and to clarify on the website that people who count New Hampshire as their domicile for voting purposes do not have to obtain a driver’s license or register their vehicles here, unless they intend to remain indefinitely.
A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 19.