College Voters, You May Possibly Be Disenfranchised

College Voters in New Hampshire will still be able to pass in a ballot on election day… for now.

It seems that there are some New Hampshire Republicans that would not like that to happen. They have been pushing for legislation to prohibit college students from voting if they have not previously established residency in their college town… The kicker is, they need to register to vote before they even start to attend school there. It seems Republicans would rather disenfranchise voters than serve them properly and win legitimately on merit.

Via ‘Rock the Vote’:

Written By: Thomas Bates (Vice President for Civic Engagement at Rock the Vote) 3/10/11

…Yesterday, the House Elections Committee voted 13 to 5 to kill this ridiculous restriction on student voting rights.

The bill’s sponsor, state Representative Gregory Sorg, had shown a particular disdain for young voters, accusing them in a public hearing of possessing “a dearth of experience and a plethora of the easy self-confidence that only ignorance and inexperience can produce.” The insults didn’t stop there as House Speaker William O’Brien expressed his view that students didn’t deserve to vote at their school because they are “foolish” and “just vote their feelings.” (For real, he said that. You can watch the video here.)

Well, students certainly had strong feelings about this piece of legislation.

We saw an inspiring effort by students across the state to beat back this legislative assault on voting rights. A multi-partisan coalition that ran the political spectrum – Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and more – came together to organize, testify, and rally. As the heads of the College Democrats and College Republicans at Dartmouth blogged here a few days ago, “the most distressing implication of HB 176 is its innate assertion that students are not truly members of their state and local communities, that the stake we hold in our politics is mitigated by the location where our parents happen to reside. The bill tells us, ‘Vote somewhere else.'” (Side note: the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that students have the right to vote where they go to school. It was in a case out of New Hampshire!)

The national media took note when the Washington Post ran a front page story Monday on the War on Voting and shined a light on the motives behind the bill. Speaker O’Brien’s comments were widely mocked. And, for now, legislators have shelved this transparent – and unconstitutional – effort to stop students from voting.

Another piece of good news: The House Elections Committee voted 18 to 0 to reject an effort to end Election Day registration. The long-standing ability of qualified New Hampshire voters to register to vote on Election Day is one of the reasons the state has one of the highest voter turnout rates in the country. Efforts to eliminate Election Day registration was another piece of the anti-young voter agenda. Speaker O’Brien, according to the Washington Post story on Monday, “said [Election Day registration] unleashes swarms of students on polling places….” Golly, we can’t have that!

Still on the horizon is a restrictive photo ID bill. The fight is not over. We’ll keep you posted.

Young voter participation has been on the rise. We should be celebrating and continuing to encourage participation among the country’s largest and fastest growing group of voters. Instead, we are witnessing a concerted state-by-state effort to erect new barriers and reverse existing laws that have lead to greater access. It’s a blatant attempt to make it harder for young people to vote. And it is wrong.

I hope you’ll join the fight because even as we celebrate a major victory in New Hampshire the war on voting rages on.

Find the full article here: