My Turn: Young people defeat anti-student voter bills

For the Monitor
Published: 3/11/2021 6:51:45 PM

When New Hampshire Republicans attempted to strip students and young people of their right to vote through three anti-voter bills in the House, students across the state took notice and got to work to stop it. On Wednesday, students won, successfully defeating the GOP’s most recent attempt to cut out college students from N.H. elections. By paying attention, getting organized, and speaking up loudly, young people proved that they are engaged in state politics and have the power to defeat attacks on their own rights.

For young people and students in New Hampshire, attacks on your voting rights are apparently an annual occurrence in Concord. Many will remember the tireless fight against the last round of anti-student voter legislation, HB 1264, that ended with 10 young people sitting in Gov. Chris Sununu’s office in protest until they were arrested after the governor broke his promise to veto the bill, and a slew of ongoing legal battles.

If you’re a young person or student in this state, this latest round of anti-voter legislation was angering and disappointing, but not a surprise.

N.H. Republicans (in lockstep with Republicans nationally) have pursued a political agenda to fundamentally change the state electorate in their favor, and they continue their attempts to ram through this agenda today. Historically, this agenda has been sneaky by design – covert attempts to change the rules to their benefit that, all too often, went unnoticed until it was too late.

This time, however, people noticed, and they swiftly intervened to stop them in their tracks. On Monday, 457 people declared their opposition to one of three anti-voter bills, trouncing the measly 18 in favor. This wave of opposition was, according to the Election Law Committee Chair, the highest volume of testimony the committee had seen this session. For hours, young person after young person shared their opposition to these shameless attacks. This overwhelming organized opposition proved victorious on Wednesday, when all three anti-voter bills were voted down or retained.

This is a victory for young voters in N.H., and a victory for the voting rights of all in this great state. But we aren’t naive: we know that attacking voter rights remains a part of the N.H. Republican agenda, and we expect the next attempt to be more subtle. They think they can strip voting rights unnoticed, but we will notice, and we will win again.

(Ben Kremer, a former student at the University of New Hampshire, lives in Newmarket.)

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