Student Vote

LFDA Editor

Students make up a large portion of the population in several towns in New Hampshire, including Durham, Keene, Hanover, and Plymouth. The issue of these students and their right to vote has been the subject of bills nearly every legislative session for the past few years.

Proponents of student voter restrictions argue that students are skewing the vote in college towns and earning the towns more liberal elected officials. They say that the students are not permanent residents and should not have the right to vote.

Opponents of laws meant to restrict student voting believe that it's a misconception that students lean to the left. Opponents also argue that banning students from voting, despite the fact that many live in New Hampshire for only nine months out of the year, is equivalent to voter suppression. 

Notable Legislation: Voter ID and Voter Registration

SB 289, passed June 27, 2012, requires residents to show identification prior to voting in a town, state, or federal election. The bill was vetoed by then-Gov. Lynch but overridden by the House and Senate.

The law's supporters argued that it would reduce voter fraud and that being required to show identification is a common occurrence (like when checking into a hotel or purchasing tobacco). Opponents said it was a form of discrimination toward students in addition to the elderly and low-income residents ' groups least likely to be in possession of an ID.

During the trial run, between the bill's passing and September 2013, voters without identification had to fill out an affidavit to confirm their identity and also have their photo taken, then later be contacted by the state, when they would confirm that they did vote (a result of HB 1354). Vouchers were made available to those without identification who wished to obtain it for free.

SB 318, also passed over the Governor's veto in 2012, added terminology to voter registration forms suggested domiciled voters were also subject to residency laws. The law was challenged in 2012 by the League of Women Voters and the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union, who asserted that it was discriminatory to students. It was ruled unconstitutional in July of 2014.


"For" Position

"Against" Position


Tabled in the House

States that a declaration of domicile for voting purposes establishes that address as the residence for car registration purposes

In Committee

Removes language from the voter registration form that suggests a voter who claims domicile must also have a New Hampshire driver's license. A voter must claim domicile, but not residency, to vote. Residency requires a New Hampshire driver's license, etc. The voter registration form currently reads, "In declaring New Hampshire as my domicile, I am subject to the laws of the state of New Hampshire which apply to all residents, including laws requiring a driver to register a motor vehicle and apply for a New Hampshire's driver's license within 60 days of becoming a resident." Some Democrats argue this wording is intended to discourage out-of-state college students from voting in New Hampshire.

Vetoed by Governor

Requires that a voter has lived in the state and county for at least 30 days

In Committee

Tightens the definition of domicile for the purpose of voting

Killed in the House

Removing career school student IDs from the list of acceptable voter identification

Killed in the House

Making any student with their name on a voter checklist eligible for in-state tuition

Killed in the House

Requiring the University of NH to indicate whether a student is in-state or out-of-state on each student ID card

Interim Study

Forbidding students paying out-of-state tuition at UNH from claiming New Hampshire as a domicile for voting purposes

Senate Nonconcurred with the House

Establishing a commission to study uniform definitions of "domicile" and "residency" in state statutes

Signed by Governor

Requiring anyone that objects to a voter's ID to provide evidence that the ID does not prove the voter's identity

Signed by Governor

Revising 2011 voter ID law to delay requirement that poll workers photograph voters without ID; also allows student ID at polls

Veto Overridden

Requiring voters to present identification at polling places

Tabled in the Senate

Stating that any person declaring a New Hampshire address as a domicile for voting purposes must also establish New Hampshire as his or her residency for motor vehicle law purposes

Veto Overridden

Adding terminology to voter registration forms saying that a domiciled person may be subject to residency laws

Killed in the House

Changing the definition of "domicile" for voting purposes so that out-of-state students can not claim domicile in New Hampshire

Killed in the House

Changing the definition of "domicile" for voting purposes so that out-of-state students can not claim domicile in New Hampshire

Should out-of-state students be allowed to vote in NH elections?


Add a comment


Amanda Cram
- Loudon

Tue, 09/25/2012 - 9:24pm

I must say that I am absolutely disgusted that the out-of-state college students will be allowed to vote in our state elections!

This isn't a matter of voter fraud; this is a matter of students, with no ties to our state, being allowed to choose OUR governor, congress, senate, state and local legislature and then go back to their own state without a care of the leadership they left to us.

I got an absentee ballot to vote when I was an out-of-state college student. It isn't that hard!

I ask, what is next? Should we let the tourists get to vote here too? How about those who come up every weekend? At least many of them are property owners. If they want that much of a say in our elections, then they should become a resident.

If they're too lazy to obtain an absentee ballot from their own state, then why bother voting?

qigrisu's picture
Frederick Harvey
- Portsmouth

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:52am

I am finding little discussion in the thread of the taxes paid by voters.


When we "vote" it is an opportunity to give "feedback" to our officials in the most important way.  Voting for those who make our laws here in NH, and those who ultimately govern the way our taxes are spent and how much in taxes we pay, is serious business.  Voter qualifications should be treated seriously, not to comport to some socially popular "dream". 


Well, how much tax does a student contribute during his few months of "domicile" while studying?


So, why does a out of state student's vote get to possibly nullify the vote of a regular taxpayer here in NH, when these student have no "skin in the game"?


Should not our voter qualifications have something do with who pays the freight?  Frankly, I have problems with votes that come from those who do not "contribute" financially to the state. Those votes are likely to be air head idealists, liberals, and other political hobbyists.

Tax payer pay the freight, and they should be the "deciders". Voting is about money, laws, and competence, not an "entertainment".


Students, if they vote, should vote from home, where their family at least is paying the freight, if they themselves have not yet achieved "income".  If they start by voting at home at least it will make their family life more interesting at high days and holidays!

qigrisu's picture
Frederick Harvey
- Portsmouth

Sun, 04/26/2015 - 10:54am

It seems to me that the powers that be are becoming very "loosey goosey" about what is "law".


The issue of voting rights is in my mind now that the students and the Supreme Court are trying to understand what residency means!


Residency is where you live, not where you are visiting. It is "home".


Residency has a legal definition. If you use "casual laws" it will produce "legal casualties".  In the case of student permissions to vote out-of-state it means you will produce some voting fraud.


Students are often attending school "out-of-state". If you let them vote here when they come from "there", who is to say they will not "vote twice", once here, and once there?  They have every right already to vote with absentee ballot if they cannot make it home to vote, if they care to vote.


Come on NH lawyers, NH legislators and NH Judges. Get your act together. Use the brains God gives you. Get "real".

I expect if you really try hard you can all come to the point where you really understand the laws you are coming up with.





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Issue Status

Out-of-state college students are still allowed to vote in New Hampshire and present student ID as a valid form of voter identification.

Sen. Sharon Carson is the primary sponsor of SB 179, a 2015 bill that requires that a voter has lived in the state and county for at least 30 days. SB 179 was vetoed by Gov. Hassan.

A WMUR Granite State Poll conducted between September and October 2015 by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found that 50 percent of Granite Staters supported a 30-day residency requirement to register to vote in New Hampshire, while 28 percent opposed it, 2 percent were neutral, and 19 percent did not know enough to take a side. 

For the 2016-2017 legislative session, Rep. David Bates has requested a bill to provide that only a resident of the state can establish a domicile for the purpose of voting, as well as a bill relative to the construction of the terms "resident" and "inhabitant."


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