Student disenfranchisement — it’s an issue that has come up again and again in state politics, and it’s particularly relevant to Dartmouth. According to a current bill in the New Hampshire House of Representatives, as soon as the November general election, voters would have to present valid photo ID at the polls … and student IDs don’t count.
The voter identification bill looked very different a week ago. For one thing, it considered student IDs a valid form of voter identification. For another, the changes would not be applied until January 2013.
The bill was pitched as a way to fight allegedly rampant voter fraud, and it looked sure to pass — it had the support of the Senate, the secretary of state’s office and the New Hampshire City and Town Clerks’ Association. Then, last Thursday, the House Election Law Committee voted to move the bill’s implementation date up by several months and to eliminate student IDs as valid voter identification.
Rationale? They’re too easy to fake. Because the real fake ID problem is all the student imposters running amok.
According to Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, the bill’s passage is threatened by the committee’s amendment. And clerks across the state say that it would be impossible to implement the changes in the time frame the amendment proposes.
It all goes back to a debate about domicile and whether students in college can say for legal purposes that they live in the state. Redefining domicile was the basis for the March 2011 push to disenfranchise student voters. The question has come up many times before.
No word on whether students would be able to request the state-issued voter IDs that the new bill provides for, or if they would have to present additional proof of residence in order to obtain a card. Regardless, by increasing regulations and red tape, the bill could cause student political participation to plummet.