Student Vote

Citizens Count Editor

Students make up a large portion of the population in several towns in New Hampshire, including Durham, Keene, Hanover, and Plymouth. The issue of these students and their right to vote has been the subject of bills nearly every legislative session for the past few years.

Learn more about voter registration and how to vote in New Hampshire

Where should college students vote?

When it comes to voting, college students in and from New Hampshire have a choice:

  • They can vote in their home state using an absentee ballot.
  • They can vote in person in the state where they attend school. 

A college student must choose one option or the other: to do both would constitute an act of voter fraud. 

Voting while studying in NH

New Hampshire law does allow adults over age 18 who are attending college here to vote in our elections. 

  • Like all voters, they must register to vote.
  • They must also present an ID at the polls or sign an affadavit. Currently, a student ID for a New Hampshire college or university is still considered valid ID for voting purposes. 

As of July 2019, voting in New Hampshire will be equivalent to declaring legal residency in the Granite State. This means that students who opt to vote here will become subject to other requirements for state residents, such as the obligation to register cars here and to get a New Hampshire driver’s license.

Learn more about New Hampshire's voter residency requirements

Areas of controversy

Several changes in state policy on voting and registering to vote that could affect students have been considered in recent years. The most significant was the passage of HB 1264 (2018) in July 2018. Before that bill passed, out-of-state college students at New Hampshire schools could opt to vote in the Granite State without taking on the other obligations of residency.

HB 1264 (2018) takes effect in July 2019. That bill has the effect of requiring anyone who votes in New Hampshire to fulfill other obligations of being a resident of the state, such as the requirement to get a Granite State driver’s license or register a car here.

Opponents of that law have vowed to challenge it in court, at least partly on the basis that it would unfairly impact college students.

A push to change the state’s voter ID law, which currently considers most student identification cards a valid form of ID for voting purposes, is also likely to arise in the wake of the bill’s passage.

 

PROS & CONS

"For" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

"Students from out-of-state should be allowed to vote in NH elections."

  • Requiring out-of-state college students to register their cars in New Hampshire and get Granite State driver’s licenses amounts to a poll tax, which will deter them from participating in our democracy.
  • College students are, in fact, a part of the communities where they study. They work here, shop here, and play here. They should therefore have the right to vote here and help shape the policies that impact their lives.
  • New Hampshire’s population is getting older. The Granite State needs to attract and retain more young workers, and denying them the right to vote here will not make them feel welcome and invested in our state.

The preceding points were made by Jeanne Hruska, policy director for the ACLU-NH, in an opinion piece in Foster’s Daily Democrat in January 2018.

"Against" Position

By Citizens Count Editor

"Students from out-of-state should not be allowed to vote in NH elections."

  • Requiring out-of-state college students to commit to genuine residency in New Hampshire before voting here brings New Hampshire into line with every other state in the union.
  • It would be unfair to allow a college student whose true place of residency is in another state to vote in a New Hampshire election, effectively canceling out the vote of another life-long resident of the Granite State.
  • The New Hampshire Supreme Court has confirmed that the Granite State’s current voting laws are constitutional and do not unduly infringe upon the rights of college students to vote.
  • College students from out-of-state who do not wish to take on the obligations of being full New Hampshire residents are not disenfranchised. They can still vote. They simply must do so via absentee ballot in their home states.

The preceding points were made by Michael Graham, political editor of NH Journal, in a July 2018 opinion piece responding to Gov. Chris Sununu’s signing of HB 1264.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

Killed in the House

Requires out-of-state college students to provide proof they are domiciled in New Hampshire before they are permitted to vote, such as "vehicle registration, driver’s license, city or county car stickers, payment of state or local taxes, participation in community and professional activities in New Hampshire, the presence of immediate family members in the state, and length of time in the state."

Killed in the House

Repeals the part of the voter ID law that allows voters to use student ID cards that expired within five years and student ID cards without any expiration date.

Killed in the House

Modifies various provisions relating to who is eligible to vote, for example requiring a voter to confirm they are a resident of New Hampshire. This bill also eliminates the separate election day voter registration form.

Killed in the House

States that "A person shall be deemed to have abandoned his or her domicile, for the purposes of voting or running for or holding elective office, if he or she claims residency in another state, files taxes as a resident of another state, claims a homestead exemption in another state, or sells and moves out of the residence where he or she was domiciled."

Killed in the House

Modifies the affidavit a voter signs to swear that he or she is domiciled in New Hampshire. For example, this bill makes it mandatory for the voter to provide a telephone number. This bill also only allows a voter to sign the affidavit when registering to vote on the day of an election; if registering to vote on another day, the voter must provide proof of domicile beyond the affidavit, such as a driver's license.

Killed in the House

Makes various changes to voter registration laws. First, this bill changes the definition of domicile to be "the person's permanent legal residence." The definition of domicile also requires someone to live in a district at least thirty days before voting in that district. Voters would have the new option of registering to vote at the DMV. This bill also eliminates election day voter registration, and requires voters to register at least thirty days before an election. This bill also requires voters be a registered member of a party before the date of a primary election in order to vote in the primary. Lastly, the bill requires New Hampshire colleges to issue student IDs that show if a student is in-state or out-of-state.

Signed by Governor

Changes the definition of domicile for voting purposes to make it more restrictive. This bill explicitly excludes anyone who comes to the state "for temporary purposes," such as volunteering or working on political campaigns. Out-of-state college students are still allowed to claim a domicile in New Hampshire. However, if someone moves to a new New Hampshire address within 30 days of voting, he or she must present proof of intent to stay in New Hampshire. This proof could include a lease, driver's license, a child's enrollment at a public school, etc. The voter has until 10 days after the election to provide this proof to the town clerk. If the voter does not present this proof, he or she may be investigated, including a home visit by election officials.

Killed in the Senate

Changes the definition of domicile for voting purposes to make it more restrictive. For example, this bill explicitly excludes anyone who comes to the state "for a temporary purpose," such as volunteering or working on political campaigns. This bill also requires a voter to live in the state at least thirteen days before voting.

Tabled in the Senate

Modifies the general statutory definition of "resident or inhabitant" to replace "for the indefinite future" with "to the exclusion of all others."

Tabled in the House

Constitutional amendment that only allows residents to vote in elections. (At the time of this bill's submission, New Hampshire only needs to be a voter's domicile, which allows college students to vote without establishing residency).

Killed in the Senate

Requires a voter to be domiciled in New Hampshire for at least ten days before voting, and narrows the definition of domicile (for example to exclude individuals who move to New Hampshire to work on a political campaign).

Tabled in the House

States that a declaration of domicile for voting purposes establishes that address as the residence for car registration purposes.

Interim Study

Removes language from the voter registration form that suggests a voter who claims domicile must also have a New Hampshire driver's license. A voter must claim domicile, but not residency, to vote. Residency requires a New Hampshire driver's license, etc. The voter registration form currently reads, "In declaring New Hampshire as my domicile, I am subject to the laws of the state of New Hampshire which apply to all residents, including laws requiring a driver to register a motor vehicle and apply for a New Hampshire's driver's license within 60 days of becoming a resident." Some Democrats argue this wording is intended to discourage out-of-state college students from voting in New Hampshire.

Vetoed by Governor

Requires that a voter has lived in the state and county for at least 30 days.

Killed in the Senate

Tightens the definition of domicile for the purpose of voting.  In particular, the final version of this bill requires a voter to live in New Hampshire at least 10 days before voting.

Killed in the House

Removes career school student IDs from the list of acceptable voter identification.

Killed in the House

Makes any student with their name on a voter checklist eligible for in-state tuition.

Killed in the House

Requires the University of NH to indicate whether a student is in-state or out-of-state on each student ID card.

Interim Study

Forbids students paying out-of-state tuition at UNH from claiming New Hampshire as a domicile for voting purposes.

Senate Nonconcurred with the House

Establishes a commission to study uniform definitions of "domicile" and "residency" in state statutes.

Signed by Governor

Requires anyone that objects to a voter's ID to provide evidence that the ID does not prove the voter's identity.

Signed by Governor

Revises 2011 voter ID law to delay requirement that poll workers photograph voters without ID; also allows student ID at polls.

Veto Overridden

Requires voters to present identification at polling places.

Tabled in the Senate

States that any person declaring a New Hampshire address as a domicile for voting purposes must also establish New Hampshire as his or her residency for motor vehicle law purposes.

Veto Overridden

Adds terminology to voter registration forms saying that a domiciled person may be subject to residency laws.

Killed in the House

Changes the definition of "domicile" for voting purposes so that out-of-state students can not claim domicile in New Hampshire.

Killed in the House

Changes the definition of "domicile" for voting purposes so that out-of-state students can not claim domicile in New Hampshire.

Should out-of-state students be allowed to vote in NH elections?

Comments

Mike Dunbar
- Hampton

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 11:41am

You ought to vote in the place where you have a real stake in the consequences of your vote. If you only live here because you happen to go to school here, and plan to leave as soon as you can, why would you want to vote here? Why wouldn't you vote where you are fully invested, in the place where you've set down your roots? Likewise, if you do want to vote here, excellent! But you should be willing to take on all the responsibilities of residency that come with it.

Jackie Benson
- Kensington

Thu, 07/12/2018 - 8:05am

College students spend the majority of their year living in New Hampshire. Why shouldn't they have the right to vote here, if they choose to do so? If the concern is that they will also vote in their home states - that's already a crime, so enforce the laws that already exist for that crime. Disenfranchising legitimate voters is not a solution to preventing voter fraud - it's how we start undermining our democracy.

Calvin Locke
- Hampton

Fri, 07/06/2018 - 3:46am

All of the cons are well stated! Absolutely Not! There are no Pros that have any substance at all!

Seth King
- Sugar Hill

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 3:51pm

No excuses for the whiny dems.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlDgOIdD3BY

Frederick Harvey
- Portsmouth

Sun, 04/26/2015 - 10:54am

It seems to me that the powers that be are becoming very "loosey goosey" about what is "law".

 

The issue of voting rights is in my mind now that the students and the Supreme Court are trying to understand what residency means!

 

Residency is where you live, not where you are visiting. It is "home".

 

Residency has a legal definition. If you use "casual laws" it will produce "legal casualties".  In the case of student permissions to vote out-of-state it means you will produce some voting fraud.

 

Students are often attending school "out-of-state". If you let them vote here when they come from "there", who is to say they will not "vote twice", once here, and once there?  They have every right already to vote with absentee ballot if they cannot make it home to vote, if they care to vote.

 

Come on NH lawyers, NH legislators and NH Judges. Get your act together. Use the brains God gives you. Get "real".

I expect if you really try hard you can all come to the point where you really understand the laws you are coming up with.

 

Rick

Newington

Frederick Harvey
- Portsmouth

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:52am

I am finding little discussion in the thread of the taxes paid by voters.

 

When we "vote" it is an opportunity to give "feedback" to our officials in the most important way.  Voting for those who make our laws here in NH, and those who ultimately govern the way our taxes are spent and how much in taxes we pay, is serious business.  Voter qualifications should be treated seriously, not to comport to some socially popular "dream". 

 

Well, how much tax does a student contribute during his few months of "domicile" while studying?

 

So, why does a out of state student's vote get to possibly nullify the vote of a regular taxpayer here in NH, when these student have no "skin in the game"?

 

Should not our voter qualifications have something do with who pays the freight?  Frankly, I have problems with votes that come from those who do not "contribute" financially to the state. Those votes are likely to be air head idealists, liberals, and other political hobbyists.

Tax payer pay the freight, and they should be the "deciders". Voting is about money, laws, and competence, not an "entertainment".

 

Students, if they vote, should vote from home, where their family at least is paying the freight, if they themselves have not yet achieved "income".  If they start by voting at home at least it will make their family life more interesting at high days and holidays!

Amanda Cram
- Loudon

Tue, 09/25/2012 - 9:24pm

I must say that I am absolutely disgusted that the out-of-state college students will be allowed to vote in our state elections!

This isn't a matter of voter fraud; this is a matter of students, with no ties to our state, being allowed to choose OUR governor, congress, senate, state and local legislature and then go back to their own state without a care of the leadership they left to us.

I got an absentee ballot to vote when I was an out-of-state college student. It isn't that hard!

I ask, what is next? Should we let the tourists get to vote here too? How about those who come up every weekend? At least many of them are property owners. If they want that much of a say in our elections, then they should become a resident.

If they're too lazy to obtain an absentee ballot from their own state, then why bother voting?

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Issue Status

Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill that will require college students wishing to vote in NH to follow other rules for residents, such as the requirements to get a NH drivers' license and register their cars in the Granite State, starting in 2019. 

Read more about this bill

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