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.”