House Bill 1264 passed, voters should proudly vote in their own state election

Jacob Halterman, Crier staff

I was born and raised in Maryland, and since my schools were never too far from Washington DC, we would often visit the city for field trips to the Smithsonian or for soccer games against other high schools.

If you’ve visited the District, you might have noticed that DC license plates are emblazoned with the phrase, “No taxation without representation,” which refers to the federal disenfranchisement of DC residents despite their payment of federal taxes.

At first glance, the saying makes a lot of sense, as it did when it was first used as a rallying cry in the run-up to the American Revolution; there’s no doubt that many Americans can sympathize with the sentiment. The people of DC deserve to represent themselves, not have the residents of other states decide what is best for them.

Similarly, I cannot comprehend how people think non-residents (typically college students) should be allowed to vote in New Hampshire elections as though they were a NH resident. If you live in New Hampshire, vote in New Hampshire; if you call Maryland home, vote there instead.

Even though I could’ve voted in the Granite State this election, I decided against it, for two reasons. One, it’s unfair to those people who have spent their lives here. Especially as a swing state at both the national and local level, by voting here, I would feel like a carpetbagger—moving somewhere for political gain.

Secondly, I am Marylander. Despite my love for New England weather, Maryland is my home, and it has objectively the best state flag, so I vote there as a source of pride. I believe that others should feel that same kind of pride in voting for candidates from their state.

Yes, college students spend significant amounts of their time here during the school year, but unlike the residents of DC, we don’t pay any taxes—especially not here in New Hampshire, where the only meaningful taxes are levied on property.

If I lived in Italy for a semester, in Orvieto, for example, does that mean I should be able to vote in Italian elections? No, of course not. The New Hampshire government has every right to set up common-sense restrictions for who can and cannot vote in the elections it oversees.

Simply existing in a place for an extended period of time does not magically confer a right to determine how that place is run.

The vast majority of St. A’s alumni do not move permanently to NH after graduation, and therefore are not impacted by the long-term consequences, good or bad, of political decisions made in the state.

For example, if I, as a non-resident, were to cast a vote in a US Senate race during my freshman year, and then move back home after graduation, I wouldn’t even see that Senator complete their term.

Also, voting in your own state is not difficult. Take it from someone who is at least a nine-hour drive to my voting precinct—most states make it incredibly easy to vote. I registered to vote online, I downloaded my ballot off the Board of Elections website, and I voted by mail a few days later.

All of this cost me a grand total of sixty-three cents for the price of an envelope and a postage stamp, in addition to the hour or so it took me to register, print, and fill out my ballot after I had researched some of the candidates. I recognize that not all states make it this easy, but they do not make it exceedingly difficult.

According to the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL), thirty-seven states allow any qualified voter to cast their ballot during a pre-determined “early-voting period” without needing an excuse or other justification for doing so. Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont all allow early voting.

Also according to NCSL, all states will provide an absentee ballot to voters who cannot make it to the polls on Election Day. Since college students have a legitimate excuse for not being able to vote at their precinct, no student should have any real trouble obtaining a ballot.

The most controversial pieces of legislation passed by the state legislature on this topic include House Bill 1264 and the related Senate Bill 3, which seek to clarify the definition of residency and require that voters actually claim domicile in New Hampshire.

The Granite State already has some of the most lenient voting laws, with same-day voter registration, and not requiring a specific length of residency in order to vote. Neither of these components are at risk.  

It seems that instead of fighting to further loosen the election laws in this state, opponents of the relevant legislation should instead lobby to make it easier to vote in states with more restrictive requirements.

If Anselmians want to vote in New Hampshire, as it seems many of them do, then they should take the necessary steps to become a resident. But short of that, I’d suggest that they instead vote in the state they call home—and take pride in doing so.