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New Hampshire Republicans want to make sure college students can't vote

College voters are a key Democratic constituency in the Granite State.

By Emily Singer - March 18, 2021
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Students listen.

Republicans in New Hampshire have introduced a spate of bills looking to make it harder — if not impossible — for college students to vote in the state, an effort to strip Democrats of an important bloc of supporters ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

One bill being considered in the GOP-controlled state House would ban students from using their dorm address to register to vote. A second bill would remove student IDs from the list of acceptable forms of identification needed to cast a ballot.

It’s part of a growing trend of Republican state lawmakers trying to make it harder to vote for key Democratic constituencies following Donald Trump’s 2020 loss.

For example in Georgia, Republicans are seeking to cut back on Sunday early voting days and require voters to submit copies of their ID to vote by mail — moves critics say are directly aimed at disenfranchising Black voters.

Black voters — who backed President Joe Biden over Trump in the state by a 77-point margin, according to exit poll data — vote in large numbers on Sundays. It’s because Black churches organize “Souls to the Polls” events, where churches organize caravans to take parishioners to vote after services.

And the voter ID law could also disproportionally impact Black voters, as data shows Black voters are more likely than white voters to not possess the type of ID needed to cast a ballot. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, “Nationally, up to 25% of African-American citizens of voting age lack government-issued photo ID, compared to only 8% of whites.”

New Hampshire doesn’t have much of a minority vote to suppress. The state is 93% white, according to the Census Bureau.

But the state does have the largest number of college students per capita, with college students making up 11% of the state population, according to American School & University, a trade publication for education professionals.

And college students overwhelmingly vote Democratic, with 65% of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 choosing Biden over Trump in 2020, according to national exit poll data.

New Hampshire will be a critical state for Republicans in the 2022 midterms, when they will seek to win back control of the Senate.

Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan is up for reelection this year. She is one of just four Democrats up for reelection in the 2022 class of senators whose race is currently considered competitive, and thus Republicans will target the seat for a pick-up.

New Hampshire Republicans have also tried to disenfranchise college students in the past.

GOP Gov. Chris Sununu signed a law in 2018 that would force students to become permanent residents of the state in order to vote, rather than just prove they were domiciled in New Hampshire.

However, that law was struck down, with a judge ruling that it put a “discriminatory burden on the rights of voters in New Hampshire.”

“Young, mobile, low-income and homeless voters will all encounter SB 3 and be exposed to its penalties at a higher rate than other voters,” the judge wrote in an opinion striking the law down, according to NBC News. “Therefore the burdens imposed by the law are discriminatory, in addition to being unreasonable.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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