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Election Law Changes Aimed At Blocking College Students From Voting In NH, Passes Senate Committee

Today, an amendment  to House Bill 372, authored by Republican Senators Regina Birdsell and Jim Gray, passed the Senate Election Law Committee on a 3-2 party-line vote. The bill would redefine “domicile” status for voting purposes, effectively forcing registrants to declare residency upon registering to vote, chilling the right to vote for college students in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Republicans have previously argued that their voter disenfranchisement laws, like SB3 which passed last spring, are not designed to disenfranchise college students. Birdsell, SB3’s author and an author of the amendment to HB 372, said last year“We are not targeting students.” Birdsell’s amendment to HB 372 would in fact use intimidation tactics to disenfranchise thousands of students attending college in New Hampshire.

“HB 372 serves one purpose: to drastically decrease student turnout on campuses across New Hampshire,” said University of New Hampshire sophomore Isabella Arms. “Thousands of students, like me, move to New Hampshire every year to learn and contribute to our communities, with the hope of staying here to start our careers. However every year, Republicans in Concord make it their priority to disenfranchise the exact group of people they need to attract and retain in order for our state to grow and thrive. The state benefits from students like us when it means getting more federal money or electoral clout, but they don’t think we count when it comes to voting for local issues that affect us, including preventing tuition hikes or investing in workforce training.

When Governor Sununu and Republican leadership raise our tuitions and make it more difficult for us to vote and take part in the democratic process, it’s hard to take them seriously as champions for my generation like they so often claim to be. I speak on behalf of many concerned Granite State students when I say we hope this bill is rejected when it comes to a full Senate vote,” Arms concluded.

“Senator Sanborn’s amendment to House Bill 372 is the New Hampshire GOP’s latest attempt to stop college students from voting,” said Let America Vote President Jason Kander. “Last session’s Senate Bill 3 is still in court, but that isn’t keeping Republicans from trying to further stop eligible New Hampshire voters from voting. When a college student registers to vote, they shouldn’t be threatened with possible legal penalties for how their car is registered. Voter registration should be a simple, straightforward process for all eligible Granite Staters. This is classic voter suppression, and it’s clearly a Republican priority to stop college students in New Hampshire from being able to vote in the state where they spend the most time. When Let America Vote opens its New Hampshire office next year, we’ll make sure that elected officials like Senator Sanborn have to answer for this.”

“For years, Republicans have been slowly eroding voting rights in New Hampshire. HB 372 would effectively disenfranchise thousands of legal Granite State voters,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party.  “New Hampshire Republicans like Governor Sununu and Senator Birdsell have been trying to trick New Hampshire voters into believing there is widespread voter fraud to create a pretext for voter disenfranchisement legislation that would help swing elections in their favor.”

Buckley added, “Granite Staters who care about their most fundamental right to make their voices heard should stand up and fight this bill until it disappears for good. We will not allow Trump, Sununu & Birdsell to strip away foundational democratic guarantees based on a lie designed to serve their political objectives.”

TONIGHT: Koch Bros AFP-NH to Supply UNH Students with Free Alcohol to Oppose Obamacare, Not Sign Up for Health Coverage

Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity Part of National Campaign to Discourage Young Adults, Others from Getting Health Coverage; Dartmouth Stop Scheduled for Next Week

party
Concord, NH – Billionaire Koch brothers funded groups Americans for Prosperity and Generation Opportunity are supplying University of New Hampshire students with free alcohol tonight to encourage them to oppose Obamacare and not sign up for health coverage.

The “Thirsty for Freedom” event will be held at the Dover Brickhouse just off campus. It provides students with two free drink tickets to hear about “big governments war on youth” and is hosted by Koch-funded AFP, Koch-funded Generation Opportunity, Young Americans for Liberty, and the College Republicans. A boozy tailgate event hosted by some of the same sponsors at the University of Miami last fall included a fleet of Hummers, paid models as “brand ambassadors” and beer pong tables as part of an effort to discourage students from using new benefits and financial assistance available under the Affordable Care Act.

See photos: http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/chugging-beers-with-creepy-uncle-sam/2151865

Statement from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:

“Young adults are more likely to be uninsured than any other age group. Under Obamacare, young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26, and they have options for premium assistance to help them afford private coverage on the marketplace. Americans for Prosperity is encouraging UNH students to go without affordable health coverage and in doing so they are playing politics with the health and well-being of New Hampshire’s young adults. UNH students should look elsewhere for information instead of listen to a group that would encourage them to pay a fine and still go without adequate health care coverage. Covering New Hampshire is the official, free resource for Granite Staters to learn about the Health Insurance Marketplace and the new, affordable health insurance plans that are now available to them.”

“Americans for Prosperity has hit a new low with this alcohol-fueled campaign to entice New Hampshire’s young adults to go without health care coverage. Medical bankruptcy is no way for a new graduate to start their life. Being able to count on health insurance when you have an accident or access routine preventive care to catch a health problem before it grows is an important resource for our young adults, but Americans for Prosperity wants to take that away.”

*** Note: A similar event targeted at Dartmouth students is scheduled for March 25th. ***

More info:

Tampa Bay Times: Chugging beers with Creepy Uncle Sam
http://www.tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/chugging-beers-with-creepy-uncle-sam/2151865

Think Progress: Koch Group Throws Boozy Anti-Obamacare Tailgate Party At College Football Game
http://thinkprogress.org/health/2013/11/11/2923411/creepy-uncle-sam-tailgate/

Yahoo News: Creepy Obamacare ad hits college campuses and your nightmares
Note Generation Opportunity quote telling young adults not to get health coverage, period
http://news.yahoo.com/obamacare-battle-moves-to-college-campuses-200027191.html

Americans for Prosperity event announcement
http://americansforprosperity.org/new-hampshire/event/thirsty-for-freedom-thursday-happy-hour/

NH Young Democrats and Young Republicans Come Together To Oppose Voter ID Changes

Young Republicans and young Democrats come together to oppose Voter ID restrictions being debated in the NH Legislature.  The current debate is about stopping ‘phase two’ of the O’Brien legislation that would greatly reduce the number of allowable forms of identification.  This means that student IDs would no longer be valid.

This prompted a group of Republican and Democratic college students to come together to write a letter to the NH Legislature.  They have serious concerns about protecting the rights of students who want to vote, but do not attend a state school like Plymouth State.

Everyone should have the right to freely vote and these Voter ID restrictions are more about disenfranchising voters and protecting the process.  These students make a great point and the NH Senate would be wise to listen.

Dear Honorable Members of the New Hampshire General Court,

New Hampshire college students have long played a vital role in our first-in-the-nation primary and electoral process, ultimately becoming heavily invested participants in our democracy. In witnessing and hosting debates and forums on their campuses, volunteering on campaigns, and voting, it is imperative that New Hampshire students are continually encouraged to take part in our deeply valued tradition.

The currently proposed amendment to New Hampshire voter ID has caused much concern among many young voters across the Granite State, as those attending a private college in New Hampshire would be unfairly treated differently than those who attend a public university.

While our students who attend Plymouth State University or UNH would have no trouble using their student ID to vote, students attending Dartmouth College or Saint Anselm College would be turned away for using theirs.

As students from Saint Anselm College in particular, a school recognized statewide and across the country for its political activity, we are gravely concerned that such an amendment would diminish the involvement and opportunities that our students have long been afforded.

While we often have our differences on issues being debated in the State House in Concord or in Congress, we have nonetheless united to ensure the equal treatment of students in the New Hampshire electoral process with strong hopes that our counterparts in the State House and State Senate will do the same.

Sincerely,

Jesse Imse, President, St. Anselm College Democrats

Tara Sennick, Chair, St. Anselm College Republicans

Jake Wagner, Chairman, NH College Republicans

Theo Groh, President, NH Young Democrats

 

NHLN Note: There is also a great article on Voter ID in the Nashua Telegraph. Check it out here. 

COURT ORDER CONFIRMS STUDENTS’ RIGHT TO VOTE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

Concord, N.H.–Voting rights groups applauded Strafford Superior Court Judge John Lewis’ order, today, to the Secretary of State to issue new voter registration forms for this election. The new registration forms will delete a paragraph that advised all voters they would be subject to registering a car and getting a state driver’s license if they registered to vote. The order also instructs the Secretary of State to post new information on his website and to inform election officials in towns and cities to immediately begin using the corrected voter registration from.  This decision is based upon the recognition that individuals who are in the state for a limited period of time, such as students or persons doing military duty, have a absolute right to vote here while living in NH, but are unable to get NH drivers licenses because the motor vehicle law limits residents to those who intend to stay permanently or indefinitely.

“We are very pleased the Judge agreed with our concern that students who come to college in New Hampshire might give up their right to vote because of concerns about registering a car and getting a New Hampshire driver’s license even when they knew they would leave after graduation,” said Joan Flood Ashwell, election law specialist for the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire.

“The new paragraph on the voter registration form was confusing and misleading, and there was no clarifying information on the Secretary of State’s website. Now, the website will state clearly the difference between domicile for voting and residence for motor vehicles purposes, and it will clearly state that out-of-state college students do not have to register a car in New Hampshire or get a state driver’s license as a condition for voting,” she said.

The petition for an injunction against the law was filed by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union on behalf of four college students who came from other states to study in New Hampshire and who plan to leave after their studies are complete. The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire and Joan Flood Ashwell were also plaintiffs. America Votes New Hampshire works closely with the League and the NHCLU on election issues.

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