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Our Turn: HB 372 will drive millennials away



For the Monitor
Thursday, December 21, 2017

As two New Hampshire students from different sides of the aisle, we are coming together to speak out against a new effort to curb the ability of young voters like us from participating in our state’s electoral process.

House Bill 372 would establish a post-election poll tax by forcing students within 60 days to get a New Hampshire driver’s license and, if the student had a vehicle, to register it in the state or face misdemeanor charges.

Essentially, this amendment would force us to spend money to comply with unnecessary requirements if we want to vote.

We are part of our communities. When we chose to come to school in New Hampshire, we didn’t just chose a campus, we chose a home. We live here. We work here. We contribute to our communities. Most importantly, we are affected by the decisions that elected officials make on our behalf, whether it’s to freeze college tuition or move forward with rail or invest in workforce training.

These decisions not only affect the thousands of millennials who go to school here, but also affects New Hampshire’s ability to retain young people.

Denying us our constitutional right to vote in the state or making it harder for us to exercise that right doesn’t make us feel like welcome members of the community who want to stay here to live, work and raise our families. It alienates us from the place we call home.

Gov. Chris Sununu has said on camera that he “hates” this legislation, which is an important step in the right direction. We applaud the governor for firmly committing to vetoing this bill should it come to his desk.

If Republican leadership is serious about attracting and retaining a younger, well-educated workforce to move our state’s economy forward, then they should reject HB 372, which will only serve to alienate us from New Hampshire.

We speak on behalf of countless New Hampshire students when we say that we want to stay here to start our careers. That is why we will not sit idly by while legislators try to take away our access to the ballot box. We will continue to speak out because this issue is too important to do anything less.

We hope that our voices are heard and that Gov. Sununu follows through with his commitment and protects our most sacred right to make our voices heard.

(Isabella Arms is a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire. Brendan Flaherty is a freshman at St. Anselm.)