In nineteen eighty nine, after living in Washington State, Ohio, Virginia, and Connecticut, I moved to New Hampshire to attend college.
After living for three years in the Granite State, I considered it home. And unlike all the other states where I’d resided, New Hampshire was where I first got to see candidates up close – instead of just read about them. So my senior year in college, I went to the town office, became a resident, and voted in the nineteen ninety two election.
I didn’t own a car, and the DMV wasn’t within walking distance so I hadn’t changed my driver’s license. And the fee to get a new license would have cut into my limited part time income, so I legally voted without one. I got a New Hampshire driver’s license later, when I had a car, the time, and the money.
So I was shocked when the Kansas Secretary of State now serving on President Trump’s voter fraud commission, Chris Kobach, asserted that Maggie Hassan won her New Hampshire Senate seat - and Hillary Clinton won the state - because five thousand three hundred and thirteen voters registered with out-of-state driver’s licenses.
Only one thousand and fourteen later got New Hampshire licenses so Kobach, a Trump supporter, called those five thousand votes illegal. Without providing evidence, President Trump created the commission after claiming that Hillary Clinton’s national win of the popular vote in the last election was caused by millions of fraudulent votes.
Thankfully New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner recently declared at the first commission meeting in New Hampshire that there was no evidence of voter fraud in the state in the last election. It’s legal for college students to vote in their college towns, and studies have repeatedly shown that illegal voting is rare.
But New Hampshire Republican Governor Chris Sununu has also expressed dubious concern about voter fraud in the last election and has helped to enact stricter state voting requirements.
I wish that instead of tightening voter requirements, my state would follow Vermont’s lead. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, in kicking off September as National Voter Registration Month, stated that “We will continue working to register every eligible voter, and to reduce barriers to registration and voting in Vermont.”
It’s a goal I wish we all could embrace.