In a new written response to a complaint from the state Republican Party, the New Hampshire’s Attorney General’s Office has affirmed the right of certain college students to vote in the state. The New Hampshire GOP had sent letters advocating for blocking college students from voting in the state if they had registered there at one point but had since ended up residing outside of the state due to colleges setting up remote learning. Remote learning would not require students to actually be present in the state, even if they remain registered at a New Hampshire college. The recent rise in remote, web-based education set-ups stems from concerns about in-person gatherings due to the spread of the Coronavius.
The state AG’s office says that college students “who previously registered to vote in New Hampshire do not automatically lose their voting eligibility if they’re out of state due to remote learning or other circumstances,” as reported by local NPR.
Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Chong Yen insisted in a response to state Republicans that a “temporary absence” from the state doesn’t mean that voters lose their rights to cast their ballots in the state’s elections. Furthermore, he added, voters must at some point establish a residence in the state in order to become eligible to vote to begin with, and college students who are originally from another state are already specifically allowed to vote in New Hampshire elections.
As Chong Yen put it:
‘As the New Hampshire Supreme Court has recently confirmed, it reflects longstanding domicile law that a student living in New Hampshire and attending an institution of learning may lawfully claim domicile in the town or ward in which the student lives if the student’s claim of domicile meets the requirements of [New Hampshire’s voting eligibility law].’
New Hampshire might not be a traditional battleground for the general election during a presidential race, but with a race between Donald Trump and Joe Biden that could end up close in the final results, every bit counts. (A Suffolk University poll conducted in the state during early October found Biden in the lead by 10 percent.) The GOP has carried out a slew of voter suppression schemes across the country, including a recent case in which the Pennsylvania Republican Party asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block mail-in ballots received after Election Day from inclusion in the state’s final results. In the wake of concerns about slowdowns in mail delivery service around the country, Pennsylvania authorities recently extended the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots to be counted to the third day after Election Day. Republicans had asked for that deadline extension to be undone, but the Supreme Court did not approve their request.