Live Free (Elsewhere): New Hampshire Moves To Strip Voter Rolls of College Students

New Hampshire Rep. Gregory Sorg (R- Grafton County) is being accused of trying to prune the voter rolls of presumed liberal voters by barring college students from voting. His “Voters Attending Institutions of Learning” would tell students to vote back home.

The law would establish that “the domicile for voting purposes” of a college student would be the town or city “in which such person had his or her domicile immediately prior to matriculation … even though his or her intent to return thereto is uncertain.”

I have serious constitutional doubts over the viability of the law, particularly in terms of vagueness and equal protection. However, it is the motivation that is now being questioned after the release of comments by Speaker of the House William O’Brien (R-Hillsborough), who told a conservative group that college students registering to vote on Election Day “are basically doing what I did when I was a kid and foolish, voting as a liberal.”

Supporters, however, insist that college students increase the danger of voting fraud in the state.

The proposed law states in pertinent part:

654:2-b Voters Attending Institutions of Learning.

I. The domicile for voting purposes of a person attending an institution of learning shall be the state, or the town, city, ward, or unincorporated place in New Hampshire, in which such person had his or her domicile immediately prior to matriculation, even though such person may no longer reside in said state, town, city, ward, or unincorporated place, and even though his or her intent to return thereto is uncertain. The domicile for voting purposes of a person attending an institution of learning shall not be the place where the institution is located unless the person was domiciled in that place prior to matriculation.

So, even if the student does not reside in another state and has no plans to return to the earlier state, New Hampshire will refuse to recognize his or her domicile for purposes of voting? Matriculation is generally defined as “to be admitted into a group, especially a college or university.”

The problem with the bill is not the right of the state to define who is an eligible voter, but how they are going to disfranchise students who attest that they consider New Hampshire to be their home or do not intend to return home to their original state. In terms of equal protection, how are they going to handle military personnel who under federal law are allowed domestically. Presumably, they can continue to vote in New Hampshire despite not living in the state. How about missionaries and others living abroad? Those voters are guaranteed federal voting rights under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA). They will be presumably allowed to vote in New Hampshire elections, but not students.

The denial of state voting to students could lead to complications for joint federal and state elections. It also could lead to challenges based on the 26th Amendment which was drafted in part to overturn Oregon v. Mitchell, 400 U.S. 112 (1970) where the Court found Congress could not compel states to register 18-year-old citizens in state and local elections.

While the federalism arguments behind this bill are compelling in many circumstances of voter regulation, this bill would use federalism principles to cut out voters and thereby dictate electoral results. It would effectively say that the voters of New Hampshire should decide such questions but we are not going to allow a significant number of prior voters to be heard on such questions.

It would bar these voters on highly speculative grounds to fighting voter fraud without a showing that such fraud is the direct result of college students voting or that such fraud can be avoided without disenfranchising young people.

Notably, while politicians are constantly complaining about young people not being involved in politics and voting, this bill would bar students from getting involved. They are much more likely to be motivated to vote in their college and university towns. I am astonished not to see any response from educational organizations in opposition to this proposal.

These legislators have a rather narrow view of the state motto. They may pledge to “Live Free and Die”, but it does not mean live here. However, if you die in New Hampshire, you will presumably be considered fully domiciled.

Source:  The New Hampshire and Reddit

Jonathan Turley

55 thoughts on “Live Free (Elsewhere): New Hampshire Moves To Strip Voter Rolls of College Students”

  1. Stamford Liberal:
    “Didn’t we just hear the president tell us about the importance of quality education as it relates to the state of our union?”

    I don’t think that Representative Sorg got the memo nor did Senator Rand Paul who wants to shut down the Department Of Education,or my Governor here in New Jersey Christie.

    I keep going back to my old stand by:

    The Dumbing Down of America

    By Manuel Valenzuela

    10/12/06 “Information Clearing House

  2. Elaine M,

    Well said. Short, sweet and right to the point. Sadly, the mechanisms created to address societal problems are usually the first to get cut under the budget knife.

    Those that decry efforts to aid people in getting out of the vicious cycle see that portion of society as lazy, ungrateful and undeserving. As long as that mindset continues, the light at the end of the tunnel will diminish for those who need help, particularly, ensuring our kids have access to a good education.

  3. A free people do not send children to school at gunpoint.

    I’m past advocating vouchers (been there done that).

    Dismantle the public schools system. Take care of your own kids. Stop shirking your responsibility. If you cannot afford to have kids stop making them.

  4. Stamford Liberal,

    I agree with you about school vouchers.

    We’re always going to have failing schools unless we address the societal problems in the areas where there are failing schools. Lots of children come from troubled homes. Lots of children live in districts that are almost like war zones or are ruled by gangs. The children who come from such homes/places bring their problems to school with them.

  5. rafflaw:

    You are making up stuff.

    If students don’t take the lawful steps to become residents before they went to college that is their choice. That is not the state’s fault. The state provides legal steps understandable to most intelligent people and incoming students can become citizens is they so choose. If they are too stupid to figure out how to do: better for the state of New Hampshire.

    You pretend something is stopping students from taking the steps provided to become residents.

  6. Centrist:

    A student CAN change residency. You pretend they cannot.

    There are specific laws describing for how to do this in every state. NH has them too. If my kid wanted to establish residency out of state BEFORE attending college we could have done that. But we didn’t and IT WAS OUR CHOICE. We read the laws for establishing residency and decided not to do it.

    This is a no brainer. He voted the whole time while out of state.

  7. This law seems to fundamentally take away an adult’s right to choose where they call home. If a student decides their place of residency is the state their college or university is in are we really going to deny them that right?

  8. @Stamford Liberal

    The defense made it clear that the reason for the fraud was neighborhood safety not academic excellence, as her children would be walking from and to the school from her father’s apartment (after she dropped them off and before she picked them up). Furthermore, both her and her father ignored invoices and requests from the district to move her children, once the district found the children were not elligible to attend. That is really the crux of the problem because the district has had other cases of inelligible students, with those parents quickly resolving the matter. She ignored the district for several months before they turned the matter over to the county DA. She had remedies and she chose to worst kind. The children could have actually moved into her father’s home with him becoming their guardian, instead she chose to pretend they lived with him.

  9. Woosty’s still a Cat:

    I remember when this came up last year and I thought it was a dead issue because state eligibility requirements cannot trump federal eligibility requirements.

    And Arizona wonder’s why most of the country laughs at them. I know my sister is beyond embarrassed to say she lives there.

  10. Tootie,
    I don’t need the state tuition schedule to know that private schools charge the same for out of state as in state residents. Secondly, the students are not just visitors if they desire to make that their residence. You are always claiming that the leftys are filthy and marxists, but it is you who is telling the students where they can and cannot live.

  11. I hope it’s ok if I just use my initial. I am Jill still. Jill C. is short for Jill Chavez.

    I feel sorry for the sister in pain. Why would they do that to her? Is she a minority? Chan L. What should she do?

  12. This goes out to my sister in pain. I have been burgaled. I hope that the people in Ohio get a clue. Do they still have yellow buses? Maybe one could be dubbed the clue bus. Maybe the wheels will go round and round.

  13. rafflaw:

    Nope, I had no idea! The only ones I knew of were Cooper-Union…and…um…I think Berea (or something like that).

    Even so. The students are just visitors.

  14. Harris:

    If you come to my house and I don’t invite you then you are definitely not a visitor. I don’t think the people of NH want guests running the show.

    I am about one hundred pages into Atheist Delusions. It is simply amazing. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Got any more?

  15. rafflaw:

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with you. My problem is that the article further highlights the inequity running rampant through our education system. Perhaps I’m over-simplifying the issue but I see no use in the voucher system. Why not put the money back into a failing school to make it better, instead of diverting the funds into vouchers?

    LOL – Questlove is the drummer for the hip hop group “The Roots.”

  16. Stamford,
    I don’t have as big a problem with the Ohio situation because she could have sent her kids to the public school where she lived for no charge. I realize she wanted better schools, but I couldn’t send my kids to New Trier High School in Winnetka when I live in Woodstock. The taxes that I pay here are much different than in Winnetka. I am all for improving education for all, but to allow her to do this would open up the system for chaos.
    One more thing, who or what is “Questlove”? I know I am old and out of touch, but I have never heard of Questlove.

  17. So, the uproar over residency and Rahm Emanuel, wasn’t that exactly the opposite complaint? am I understanding this correctly? Cause motive aside , how can it be 1 way for 1 thing and another way for another…all the while benefitting only 1 party?

  18. Kinda sorta off topic, but relates to education:

    A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Waste—Except in Ohio

    Kelly Williams-Bolar, an aspiring teacher and mother of two in Ohio, was sentenced Jan. 18 to 10 days in jail and put on three years’ probation after sending her children to school in a district in which they did not live. It began four years ago, when Williams-Bolar registered her daughters for school using her father’s address in a township nearby. She became desperate when her apartment in the projects was burglarized. “When my home got broken into, I felt it was my duty to do something else,” she explained.

    After seven hours of deliberation Jan. 15, a jury convicted Williams-Bolar of two counts of tampering with court records. Williams-Bolar’s father, Edward L. Williams, was also charged with a fourth-degree felony of grand theft, in which the court calculated that the family defrauded the school system of $35,000. Apparently, in Ohio, public education is no longer a right—it is now a form of private property that can be stolen. When Williams-Bolar was unable to pay, she was indicted. She was released early last Thursday.

    Adding insult to injury, it turns out that Williams-Bolar will have to find a new career path as well. “Because of the felony convictions, you will not be allowed to get your teaching degree under Ohio law as it stands today,” the judge said. “The court’s taking into consideration that is also a punishment that you will have to serve.” Williams-Bolar’s attorneys are preparing an appeal.

    As news of Williams-Bolar’s conviction and punishment spread, many were horrified and outraged. Celebrities Danny Glover and Questlove spoke out in support of Williams-Bolar on Twitter and Tumbler, confessing that they’ve done the same thing and aren’t sorry about it. Along with many others, Glover and Questlove think it’s ludicrous that in 2011 someone can be jailed for demanding access to education. Didn’t we just hear the president tell us about the importance of quality education as it relates to the state of our union?

    Clearly, the court is making an example out of Williams-Bolar. Prosecutors agree, saying “punishment or deterrent was needed for other individuals who might think to defraud the various school districts.” Of course, it’s easiest to make an example out of someone when she does not have the resources to fight back; Williams-Bolar is a single mother who struggles to make ends meet. It is likely that the same can be said for her school district, and that is why she chose a school with more resources for her children. In the midst of such a deep recession, it is hard to believe that a single mother such as Williams-Bolar is the real enemy of the state.

    The court’s sharp focus on Williams-Bolar also allows it to ignore the historical and legal inequalities that created this problem in the first place. As the president mentioned in his 2008 “A More Perfect Union” speech, “we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.” Williams-Bolar needed no reminding of these facts. She realized she needed to take action as a mother, and so she did what she could to ensure her daughters a quality education. This sentence practically guarantees that the social and economic circumstances that drove Williams-Bolar to action will not be resolved. The state of Ohio has effectively robbed her of the opportunity to pull herself up “by the bootstraps,” handing down a life sentence of poverty and underemployment.

    Speaking as an educator, the punitive destruction of this woman’s teaching future is really the most outrageous offense. In this week’s State of the Union address, we heard our president talk about the need for people who recognize the importance of education to become teachers. He said: “Let’s also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child’s success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as ‘nation builders.’ Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect.”

    The president pleaded on behalf of the teaching profession and focused on the importance of education as the right of every citizen. If nothing else, this case makes clear that Williams-Bolar understands the power of education in creating a brighter future, so much so that she was proactive on behalf of her daughters and intended to repay the state by becoming a teacher herself. Obviously, the state of Ohio disagrees.

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