Proposed changes to New Hampshire election law could unfairly disenfranchise college students, seasonal residents, university professors, military personnel, and all sorts of transient workers, according to opponents of the legislation who dominated testimony on several election-related bills before the House Election Law Committee. State Rep. David Bates, R-Windham, sponsor of three measures debated Tuesday, said his bills are not aimed at any particular segment of the population. “All I’m trying to do is ensure that only residents of our state are voting in New Hampshire,” he said. “My objective is to return to what our state laws always used to be, which required a person to be a resident in order to vote here.”
The state Constitution states that any “inhabitant” of the state is qualified to vote. “Every inhabitant of the state of 18 years of age and upwards shall have an equal right to vote in any election,” according to Article 11. “Every person shall be considered an inhabitant for the purposes of voting in the town, ward, or unincorporated place where he has his domicile.”
The first bill debated on Tuesday, HB 372, would modify the legal definitions of “resident or inhabitant” and “residence or residency.” Opponents described it as part of a broader attempt to block students from voting.