BY: Citizens Count
HB 1543, proposed for consideration in the 2018 legislative session by Rep. Brian Stone (R-Northwood), requires out-of-state college students to provide proof that they are domiciled in New Hampshire before they are permitted to vote.
That proof would include a "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,” according to the legislation.
Current voting rules for out-of-state students
Currently, students registering to vote must present an ID at the polls or sign an affidavit attesting that they are domiciled in the state. A student ID for a New Hampshire college or university is considered valid proof of domicile for voting purposes.
How HB 1543 would change student voting rights
That would no longer be the case if HB 1543 passes. The bill would change state law to read that “... the mere presence of a student at the place where an institution of learning is situated is not sufficient to entitle the student to vote there."
In-state students, according to the measure, can make the claim of domicile. Out-of-state students, however, “shall overcome domicile requirements by presenting evidence to show whether the student came to New Hampshire solely for attending school or whether he or she intends to make this state his or her home for the time being. The burden is on the student to prove his or her domicile.”
Arguments for and against tightening student voter eligibility
Supporters argue the students are not permanent residents and should not have the right to vote. Instead, they should vote by absentee ballot in their home state.
Opponents of the legislation say it is an example of voter suppression, and they cite a 1979 U.S. Supreme Court decision that students have the right to vote in the towns and cities where they attend college if they so choose. The court said the law cannot constitutionally add burdens to voter registration or voting simply because someone is a student.
Should students have to provide a New Hampshire driver’s license or other proof in order to vote? Let us know in the comments section below.