CITIZEN VOICES® Car registration exception for students and other voters?

Feb 06, 2019

In 2018 New Hampshire passed a law that requires all voters to be legal residents of the state.  That means voters must register any cars in New Hampshire and get New Hampshire drivers’ licenses.

Sen. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline) is sponsoring a 2019 bill, SB 67, that would create an exception to that requirement for students and other temporary residents.

Voter residency requirement

Prior to 2018, New Hampshire had a special definition of “domicile” that allowed someone to vote in New Hampshire without following all the other residency laws.  Generally speaking, so long as someone lived in New Hampshire, they could vote in New Hampshire, but claim residency elsewhere for motor vehicles and tax purposes.  

HB 1264, passed in 2018, ended that special definition of domicile.  Now, if someone votes in New Hampshire, they must follow all residency laws. In particular, they must register any cars in New Hampshire and get a New Hampshire driver’s license within 60 days of voting.

Learn more about the voter residency requirement 

In 2019 the Legislature is considering a bill to restore that special definition of "domicile." 

Sen. Melanie Levesque has a different proposal: simply add an exception to motor vehicle laws for residents who don’t plan on staying in New Hampshire indefinitely.

An exception for car registration, licensing

SB 67, Levesque’s bill, states that any resident who expects to the leave the state in the future, “including military personnel, a student of any institution of learning, or a person employed for a fixed term,” is exempt from the residency requirements in New Hampshire’s motor vehicle laws.

In practice, this means out-of-state college students could register to vote in the same town as their dorm rooms, without having to also register their cars in-state.

Vermont has a similar exception to motor vehicle laws.

Arguments for, against an exception

Supporters of Levesque’s bill argue that car registration is not cheap and requiring voters to register cars amounts to a poll tax.  They note that there are many reasons why college students and other temporary residents may wish to keep a car registered out-of-state, even while New Hampshire is their home.  For example, a college student might be borrowing a car from an out-of-state parent.

Opponents of Levesque’s bill argue that college students and other people in New Hampshire temporarily should not have special privileges.  If they want to vote, they should pay the same fees as everyone else.

Opponents also note that college students and other temporary residents can still vote by absentee ballot from their home state.

Should some temporary residents - such as college students and military personnel - be exempt from the requirement to register their car here and get a NH driver's license but still be allowed to vote?


Pamela Kendall
- Hudson

Fri, 02/15/2019 - 1:14pm

No. Only legal residents of NH should be allowed to vote in NH.

Emily Rose
- Dover

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:40pm

#NH Resident, Yes they should be exempt, similar to existing VT law.

C. Wasserstrom
- Manchester

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:40pm

Should not be allowed to vote here, need to vote absentee in their home state, I don't want NH outcomes determined by non NH residents.

Sonja Kap
- alton

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 5:36pm

Temporary means, "lasting for only a limited period of time; not permanent".
So why would we give anyone the right to vote on long term decisions if they are only here for a limited time?

C. Wasserstrom
- Manchester

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 10:44pm

Agree, if they graduate and stay...then they vote here, not before.

Patricia Howe
- Northfield

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 4:49pm

No. Temporary residents can still vote by absentee ballot from their home state.

Emil Boire
- Manchester

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 3:21pm

No, they can obtain absentee ballots from their hone of record. I voted by absentee ballot for 21 years while I served.

Linda Murray
- Brentwood

Tue, 02/12/2019 - 2:11pm

As a NH Resident, I vote no on this.
These people need to utilize absentee ballots for their home state. What's to say they won't vote in both states if required to register car and get license in NH? They should not be required to get a license and registration here, nor should they be allowed to vote here.

Francis Murzyn
- Merrimack

Mon, 02/11/2019 - 7:09am


Mark Lord
- Raymond

Sat, 02/09/2019 - 11:21am

This has voter fraud all over it. We need to get rid of the college and universities requirements for voting, if the student is on out of state tuition that student should be given a absentee ballot for their state. NH needs permanent voters to make decision for NH,not ones that pass through.


Related Bill

SB 67 (2019)
Bill Status: Vetoed by Governor
Hearing date: Apr 16, 2019

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