On April 22, 2019, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent out a message encouraging all Presidential candidates for the 2020 election to stand in unison against a recent New Hampshire voting law.
In 2018, New Hampshire passed HB 1264. That bill changed the meaning of who in New Hampshire is eligible to vote. With the new law, a person living in New Hampshire can vote in the state as long as they become “permanent residents.” If a person living in New Hampshire was not a permanent resident when they cast a ballot in the state, the person would then have sixty days to become a permanent resident. A person can fulfill this requirement by obtaining a New Hampshire driver’s license or paying to register their cars within the sixty – day window. The law does not explicitly address what would happen if a person does not fulfill the requirement of becoming a permanent resident after casting his or her ballot. However, absent the act of voting, residents of New Hampshire who do not pay their fees to register their cars can face a misdemeanor charge that is punishable by up to one year in jail. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE
This bill in New Hampshire is highly controversial because it is targeted at young college students and is designed to deter them from voting in New Hampshire. The text of the law seems to only address the definitions of domicile and residents for legal purposes but an in – depth analysis of the law revealed that the law as applied would bar a majority of college students in the state from voting. What the law does is that it shrinks the number of people who can vote in the state by lumping non – resident college students in New Hampshire into a category that makes them ineligible to vote unless they decide to become “permanent residents” of the state. The previous framework of the law classified New Hampshire non – resident college students as “domiciles” in the state. That meant that they had a physical presence in the state (to attend college) and were allowed to vote without having to declare that they were permanent residents of New Hampshire. HB 1264 now bars “domiciles” of New Hampshire from voting in the state.
New Hampshire governor Chris Sununu signed HB 1264 last year but the law has remained under constant criticism. The bill is clearly seen as an attempt to target younger voters, who tend to lean Democratic, and bar them from voting on liberal causes in the state. One telling sign was that the bill was examined by both Election Committees in both houses of New Hamsphire’s legislature and not even mentioned by the state’s Division of Motor Vehicles. The bill is nothing more than a blatant attempt to prevent more liberal and younger Democratic voters from coming to the polls. But there is no conceivable purpose in barring students from voting. The college kids who come to New Hampshire and live there for nearly nine months of the year bring millions of dollars to the state in terms of tuition and living expenses so why not let them have a say in how their town and district is being run? Why not give them a say on important local issues that clearly affect them instead of silencing their voices? This was clearly a partisan attempt to give Republicans an advantage in a state by suppressing the votes of those who clearly could make a difference in a local or statewide election.
Senator Shaheen’s petition is also an attempt to bring light to the tactics of voter suppression that have become a technique employed by the Republican Party around the country, not just in New Hampshire. Her petition comes at the right time and is focused on the right people in order to shed light on an ongoing issue that Republicans should be ashamed they have adopted. Every one who is eligible to vote should have every opportunity to cast his or her ballot instead of seeing petty and technical obstacles thrown up in their way. By crafting her petition and sending it to the current presidential candidates of 2020, Senator Shaheen has helped make the issue of voter suppression one for the national stage for 2020 and not an issue that is isolated to just New Hampshire. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE,
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – non – profit group’s infopage on New Hampshire’s law.
- Brennan Center for Justice – non – profit group’s infopage on New Hampshire’s voting law.
- Let America Vote – non – profit group focused on voting rights issues.
This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.
Pjoto by Emre Gencer