Having read our supreme court’s decision on SB3, a bill that I strenuously opposed from my radio show, I have to say that I agree with the decision. Since June 2, 1784, Part I, Article 11 of the New Hampshire Constitution has provided for the following with respect to the Right to Vote:
Elections and Elective Franchises: All elections are to be free, and every inhabitant of the state of 18 years of age* and upwards shall have an equal right to vote in any election. Every person shall be considered an inhabitant for the purposes of voting in the town, ward, or unincorporated place where he has his domicile.
SB3 failed on multiple fronts, as the court points out. My particular objections were as follows:
1. It specifically allowed out-of-state college students to use their dorm room as their “domicile” for voting purposes only. Domicile, for centuries, has been legally defined as someone’s legal permanent residence, to which they return after a brief absence.
i. A dorm room cannot be a legal permanent residence for any reason because when the school is closed, the students have to have to go somewhere else to live. If a student leaves the school, they can no longer reside in their dorm. There’s nothing permanent about it as it’s meant to be temporary.
ii. Every school records every student’s domicile. That’s how the University System of New Hampshire determines who to charge in-state and out-of-state tuition. If state law allows out-of-state students to vote here, should they not be charged in-state tuition since voting is a privilege otherwise granted to inhabitants legally domiciled here? That isn’t done. In fact, in-state students are required to swear, under penalty of perjury, that they are domiciled in NH. Click here then click here to see exactly what the USNH does to verify domicile.
iii. While non-resident students are allowed to vote, they aren’t required to take on any of the legal responsibilities of residency, such as registering their car. They remain subject to their domicile state for things like driver’s licenses and income taxes. They also can’t be called for jury duty because they’re legal residents of their home state. “Domicile for voting only” creates a special class of citizens which demonstrates they are not legal inhabitants of our state.
vi. Out-of-state students have the same vote as New Hampshire students who vote by absentee ballot because they go to school out of state. Should we not expect out-of-state students to vote by absentee ballot in the state where they are permanent, legal residents?
2. It didn’t require any proof of identity or domicile from any person who registered or voted. None! Zero! Zip! Nothing!
3. People who refused or failed to provide either valid proof of identity and or proof of domicile were still allowed to register and vote. Even if the state brought an enforcement action against them for fraudulent voting, their ballot would still have been counted. That makes no sense.
Honestly, the fixes for this are really quite simple!
First, our state constitution both allows and requires people to vote where they are domiciled. To vote here, your legal permanent residence must be here. Period! One proves legal permanent residence with a government-issued driver’s license, non-driver’s identification, military identification or passport.
If someone moves and doesn’t get a chance to change their identification cards before voting, then they can bring something that proves their new address, such as a lease agreement, closing papers on a home (I’ve done this myself) and a utility bill in their name that provides the mailing and property service addresses.
Second, valid, state-issued photo identification must be required. Period! Does this really need to be explained, debated or argued? What serious argument can there be to not have to prove one’s identity to register or vote?
To those who would scream that these provisions infringe on the Right to Vote, that it somehow will “suppress” the votes of students, minorities, the poor, little green men from another planet, whomever, I simply say this: With the Right to Vote comes the responsibility to prove one is eligible to vote.
All rights come with responsibilities (Can’t falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theatre.) and the idea that individuals who wish to vote are without any responsibility to prove they are eligible, meaning they are who they say they are and are domiciled where they say they are domiciled, is patently absurd and should be rejected on its face.
We should all want to “suppress” the votes of those who aren’t who they say they are and aren’t domiciled in our state! Who wants fake residents voting in our elections?
Regardless of what you may think about the amount of voter fraud that exists, (For the record, I believe a lot of it exists and have documented it over the last decade) can we agree that these simple things just make sense to ensure fair and free elections that represent the choices of those who are actual legal permanent residents of our state as defined by our constitution?
*Amended in 1976 to reduce the voting age to 18.