Letter: A college voting story

Friday, December 08, 2017
A college voting story

State Sens. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, and James Gray, R-Rochester, introduced House Bill 372, aiming to further restrict out-of-state college students from voting while attending New Hampshire schools. I want to respond to this with a story of my own about voting while in college.

In 1972, I came to New Hampshire from New York City to attend Franconia College. I did not know whether I would remain in New Hampshire, as at that point in my life I had no ties to any particular place. That fall, I voted in the presidential election. I did not have a car or a New Hampshire driver’s license; I had nothing to prove my intentions regarding my future.

I graduated from college, bought a house, worked and raised my daughter, all in New Hampshire. Others who attended Franconia College also remained here, some still living and owning businesses in the North Country. Did all of them intend to remain in here when they first came? I doubt it.

There is precedent in New Hampshire regarding out-of-state college student voting: Newberger v. Peterson, a 1972 federal district court case, stated that the state cannot bar college students from voting in New Hampshire on the basis that they intend to leave after graduation, and that such policies are a violation of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. The U.S. Supreme Court also ruled on this issue in U.S. v. Symm, 1979.

The Legislature would do well to read both these rulings and instead, focus on more important issues.