During the upcoming session of the New Hampshire Legislature, State Senate and House members will debate two bills proposed by State Rep. David Bates, R-Rockingham, which would require those wanting to vote in New Hampshire to claim residency in the state, according to Bates. This change would particularly impact college students from out of state by prohibiting them from participating in New Hampshire politics, according to State Rep. David Pierce, D-Grafton.
These recent legislative attempts follow a failed effort in March to pass legislation that sought to redefine residency for voting eligibility, preventing out-of-state students from voting in state or local elections. Although those bills did pass through the House due to issues of unconstitutionality, the new bills are consistent with the 14th Amendment and could legally be enacted, Bates said.
“[The bills] are equally applicable to everyone,” Bates said.
Under the new proposed legislation, historically conservative “snowbirders,” or people who spend their summers in New Hampshire, would be affected in the same ways college students would, with both groups prohibited from voting in state and local elections, Bates said.
Anyone can vote in New Hampshire if they claim it as their residency, according to Bates.
Current New Hampshire law mandates that individuals who wish to vote must only claim domicile in the state, allowing many college students from out of state to vote in New Hampshire, according to Pierce. Domicile status implies no fixed intent to stay, while residency status, which is required to hold a state drivers license, involves an intent to remain in an area for an extended period of time, according to Pierce.