As lawmakers in Concord debate changes to the state’s election laws, college students in New Hampshire are raising concerns about how they might be affected.
Of the nearly 6,000 new voters who registered in November using an out-of-state ID, many were concentrated in New Hampshire’s college towns.
Allison Bellucci is a senior at the University of New Hampshire. She’s also executive editor of the student newspaper The New Hampshire. She joined NHPR’s Morning Edition.
You wrote an editorial making the argument that New Hampshire is driving away out of state students from staying here with some of the proposed changes to election law. Can you talk about what you meant?
I think it’s important to include UNH students in the New Hampshire election voting process just because I think the state needs a younger and educated generation. The New Hampshire workforce is getting old, that’s one thing I’ve heard for my past four years at UNH now, and I just think that keeping students here should be a priority for the state and state officials. And not just the students who came from New Hampshire, but out-of-state students, as well.
It’s important to point out those sponsoring these bills argue that they’re not looking to keep students voting, but make sure those who are voting are New Hampshire residents.
I mean, four years is a pretty long time in my opinion, but if you want to keep after the four years and you want them to be those long-term residents, then they need to be involved in the choices that are being made for the future of the state. If I didn’t get to vote this year, then I wouldn’t have a choice in who is governor or my representatives, and then I would live here for another few years? It just doesn’t make any sense to me how they can expect people to want to stay who had no say in their own future where they’re living.
So you’re worried putting up any more barriers to voting would discourage people from participating in the process?
I think so. I think if it happens, it’s not going to stop student groups from getting the word out and getting people to do whatever process they need to do. I don’t think the word discouraged would fit what UNH students have been going through to get so many people to vote. This year, when people were campaigning and encouraging students to vote, a huge factor was being able to register same day and not having to go through a process beforehand. I think that is a really important thing to keep.
You’re originally from Connecticut but you voted here in New Hampshire. Why did you choose to vote here?
Because I’ve lived here for the past four years and I’ve been so involved in learning about how New Hampshire politics work. The vote here is so crucial for the presidential election with being a swing state. I just felt like I’ve lived here now for four years, I’m really dedicated to this state. I’ve never wanted to live in New Hampshire before until now. I never thought I was going to see myself staying here. But after being through this whole process and seeing how important everything is here and how much your vote makes a difference, it’s made me want to stay more than ever. And I guarantee other students feel that way.
Do you plan on staying in New Hampshire after you graduate?
It depends on if I get a job here, but I have been applying to a lot of jobs in New Hampshire, and originally I never thought I’d be doing that.