During the November Midterm Election, Republican candidate Chris Sununu won the polls for a second term as Governor of New Hampshire. Many out-of-state SNHU students are worried about what his re-election means for their ability to vote in future New Hampshire elections.
In his prior term, Sununu signed House Bill 1264 (HB1264) which states that students and other part-time residents must become permanent residents of the state if they want to be eligible to vote. This in turn discourages out-of-state college students from voting, causing a huge decline in younger voters.
Hannah Lewis (‘19), an in-state voter, had strong opinions on how this will affect the younger voter turnout in the coming elections. She said, “It makes it harder for young voters to go out of their way to [vote] because we are so busy as college students.” She also said she believes this bill “excludes an entire population of people that may be wanting to vote, but now they’re like ‘Well, I’m not going to do it because it’s even harder.’”
Sununu also signed Senate Bill 3 (SB3) in his term which is a voting related bill that changes the proof of residency requirements for the voters who choose to do same-day registration. SB3 states that voters must prove their residency by filling out a form. They then must return it to the clerk’s office in order to vote ten days prior to the registration date.
When asked about the SB3, Sofia Blumm (’22), an in-state voter, said, “What’s the reason for changing it now?” She expressed the potential confusion that students will have in the future when voting by saying, “I just don’t think that they’re going to be be aware of the fact that they have to do extra work to now be able to vote.”
This means that students who are not New Hampshire residents have to return to their legal place of residence in order to vote beginning next year. In the future students will have to request an absentee ballot if they are unable to return home to vote.
Nick Walko (‘19), an out-of-state student, noted how significant outsider groups will be to young voters to prevent a drop in their participation in the next election. “[The bill] will seriously decrease [voting] unless… say Southern New Hampshire University decides to say, ‘If you live out of state come to us now and we will help you put in your absentee ballot.’ Unless they start pushing for the schools to help more, then it’s not going to be able to get done,” said Walko.
HB1264 will not be enacted until July 1, 2019.