New Hampshire Democrats are hoping to turn the November midterm elections into a referendum on a new law barring part-time residents from voting in the state. Last week, Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, signed into law House Bill 1264, requiring students and other part-time residents to become permanent residents of the state if they want to vote. Currently, students must show they are “domiciled” in the state when they register to vote. The new law will force permanent residents to comply with laws such as state motor vehicle registration. Students with cars, for example, would have to pay for a new, in-state driver’s license and register their cars in the state, a cost critics argue could deter the historically Democratic voting bloc from the ballot box. “It’s a poll tax,” said Garrett Muscatel, a Dartmouth College student and candidate for state representative.
“Especially on students who may not be New Hampshire residents permanently, but they live here and they spend most of their time here, and they want to be members of their community.”
Republicans have said changing the law is crucial to restoring trust and integrity in elections as allegations of voter fraud (unproved so far) run rampant. Democrats say that if the party regains control of the state government in 2018, they’ll do away with it.
Muscatel, who is also a plaintiff in a lawsuit against another restrictive voting bill, Senate Bill 3, said the new law was one of the reasons he decided to run for office.