Olivia Teixeira: We won’t be disenfranchised without a fight

For the Monitor
Tuesday, March 06, 2018

College is a place meant for learning and self-discovery. It’s where we discover who we are, what we want and what we believe in. In college we are given the unique chance to speak out, grow up and find our voice. But that voice is currently under attack thanks to a slew of voter suppression bills that are being debated in the New Hampshire Legislature.

House Bill 372 and its 2018 replica, HB 1264, are bills that seek to infringe on our legal right to vote in New Hampshire. Both bills essentially create a modern-day poll tax. They would force anyone who registers to vote to change their driver’s license, car registration and insurance to comply with New Hampshire residency laws. These tasks are time-consuming, costly and could easily prevent college students from registering to vote.

These bills are a part of the larger assault Republicans have launched on younger people and people of color. They are systematically disenfranchising us by spreading lies, such as Gov. Chris Sununu’s claim that millions of Massachusetts residents are bused into New Hampshire to vote and then “solving” the problem by passing voter suppression laws like Senate Bill 3. At a time when we should be promoting civic engagement, this abuse of power is frankly undemocratic. In fact, the governor’s own Millennial Advisory Council recommended taking steps against these bills at its January meeting.

We may be young but that does not mean we have any less of a right to cast votes for candidates whose platforms will affect our lives. The laws that the New Hampshire Legislature implements influence the price of our tuition, our housing laws, the jobs we take, and the community that we live in and contribute to.

It is baffling that in this day and age college students should have to defend our right to vote. It has been astonishing to see the lengths to which Sununu and his administration are willing to go to protect their jobs and rig elections in their favor.

The one thing they haven’t anticipated, though, is that before they’ve taken away our voice we will use it to speak out against this injustice. While Sununu waffles between doing what’s right and doing what his party talking points tell him to, we’ll be making calls, writing letters and demanding that we be given our full-fledged rights as voters.

Republicans in New Hampshire and across the country will be sorely mistaken if they think we’ll allow them to disenfranchise us without putting up a fight. We’re here, we know what they’re trying to do and we won’t stop until they’ve either backed down or are voted out of office in November.

(Olivia Teixeira of Attleboro, Mass., is a sophomore at Saint Anselm College.)