Column: HB 1264 will protect N.H. resident voting rights

For the Valley News
Published: 6/7/2019 10:30:27 PM
Modified: 6/7/2019 10:30:14 PM

Up until the summer of 2018, many New Hampshire citizens, myself included, felt there was something rather weird how, come voting day, colleges within the state were able to send legions of students to the polls. They were transported in buses and private cars and, as in the case of Dartmouth College this past year, were even personally chauffeured.

We experienced a sense of acquiescence, thinking that this must be the way it is everywhere.

But once HB 1264 began working its way through the Legislature, newspapers began providing details of how voting rights are implemented, and perceived, inside and outside of New Hampshire. Then, once the New Hampshire Supreme Court stated with no ambiguity whatsoever that HR 1264 was constitutional and that there was no privileged voting class for out-of-state, non-resident students, I became quite animated.

These non-resident students had been able to vote due to the “domicile” loophole in the voting statutes, when in fact these students were legal residents of other states, which is where they should have been voting.

I addressed this issue with others and found virtually everyone was surprised, at least mildly, to discover that non-residents were able to vote in New Hampshire.

Contrary to the advice to not take it personally, I did. Political machinations had crafted this “domicile” terminology into a force that depreciated the votes of bona fide New Hampshire citizens on all levels: local, state and federal. The new voting statute simply declares that all New Hampshire voters be New Hampshire residents. There would be no more privileged voting classes.

Now, the Democratic-controlled Legislature is attempting to reestablish non-resident voting, using the efforts of the American Civil Liberties Union and the League of Women Voters as camouflage. On the judicial level, the Democratic Party, fearing a likely rebuttal by the New Hampshire Supreme Court, has chosen to circumvent the state judicial system, hoping that a federal court will lend sympathy to their fictitious logic.

I hear and read the impassioned, theatrical exclamation of “I love New Hampshire!” by students as well as state representatives. It readily translates in my senior lexicon to a simple, plain con job.

To their considerable discredit, both the ACLU and the League of Women Voters have opted to work in concert with the Democratic Party in an attempt to depreciate the full vote of legitimate New Hampshire residents. Both organizations have become more concerned with being members in good standing of the Democratic Party and its political agenda, which includes attempting to resurrect a privileged voting class, than they are with protecting the voting rights of working- and middle-class resident voters, many of whom, like myself, are often on the conservative side of issues.

Obviously, this whole issue has absolutely nothing to do with suppressing student voting rights and everything to do with “swing” votes. The out-of-state, non-resident vote has been a treasure trove for the Democratic Party. Maggie Hassan, who won her Senate seat by a only few hundred votes, was not placed in office by New Hampshire citizens but by out-of-state, non-resident students. The stakes are large.

I have contacted Gov. Chris Sununu to express my strong support for the implementation of HB 1264 come July 1. His staff is attentive and respectful. I believe he stands to protect all resident voting rights.

Legislatively and judicially, the battle rages on. We intend to regain our full vote.

There is a privilege available to all of us — a privilege of honor. And this, the Democratic Party of New Hampshire does not possess.

Richard Bircher lives in Lebanon.




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