College students have right to vote
New Hampshire's state House Speaker, William O' Brien, a Republican, decided to go against the grain and claim that college students who vote are a problem. According to O'Brien, college students are "foolish," which leads them to vote liberal because they only use their feelings in the voting booth, and not their heads. Even more frightening than O'Brien's comments — which are outright attacks on liberal voters, grounded in no logic whatsoever — are the two bills that New Hampshire House Republicans are advocating for in the state. One would only allow students to vote in college towns if they or their parents have already established a permanent residence there, effectively barring most students from reaching the polls in their college town. The other bill would put a stop to Election Day registration, which brings a lot of students into the polls.
These bills, as evidenced by O'Brien's statements, are nothing more than insidious attacks on a group of voters that tends to not vote Republican. It is a clear plot by the New Hampshire House Republicans to disenfranchise voters who may threaten their political operations. The fact these bills have even been proposed is downright disgusting. The average student lives in their college town for at least four years, and often students stay there for longer. They deserve to have a say in the operations of that town's government, because those operations directly affect them. Also, when students get involved in local government, they often work to bring about positive changes. Consider, for example, the Empower Our Neighborhoods ward campaign mounted in New Brunswick in 2009. The campaign may have ultimately failed — although the outcome of the vote has been hotly contested — but the fact remains that the campaign never would have made it as far as it did were it not for student involvement.
O'Brien's claim that students "vote with their feelings" is an absurd generalization, not backed by any facts. It also fails to take into account the fact that many members of other voting blocs are spurred to vote for politicians who take advantage of their emotions. It is not a problem that merely affects students. Many people vote Republican purely because Republican politicians use issues like abortion and gay marriage to provoke fierce emotional responses that rally voters to their side. We doubt that O'Brien would support a measure meant to block these people from voting.
These are dangerous bills the House Republicans are supporting. We have seen some pretty disgusting political power plays in the past, but this is a particularly outrageous one. We sincerely hope that something is done to block these bills, as they can only do harm.