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The Dartmouth
April 15, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Students must change residency to vote in NH

Out-of-state students can register to vote in New Hampshire for the upcoming presidential elections but they will have to change their permanent residency.

Manchester Deputy City Clerk Paul Bergeron said "campaigns out there saying you can vote and register at the polls aren't telling the whole ramifications."

Bergeron said there was no way for students to register to vote in New Hampshire without changing their residence.

"Once you have filed the [registration] card here, you've changed your residence," he said ."You can de-register but there are requirements. You must do it within 60 days if you don't want to change your license."

Bergeron said the secretary of state in New Hampshire stated out-of-state registration in New Hampshire "could affect [a student's] scholarship status in other states and may require them to re-register their vehicles or to obtain a New Hampshire driver's license within 60 days in order to comply with New Hampshire law."

Hanover Deputy Town Clerk Winona Tyler confirmed that registering to vote on election day would alter students' permanent residence.

Bergeron said each year students register on the day of the election and discover their residency status has changed.

"We are posting the secretary of state's letter [regarding registration] and asking our registrar to make any students aware of what they are doing," Bergeron said. "Maybe next time [students] will write for the absentee ballots with plenty of time."

"When students have weighed all that, it becomes their personal decision what they want to do," Bergeron added.

Tyler said a Dartmouth student from Alaska registered in New Hampshire during the presidential primaries. As a result of losing his Alaskan residency, the student lost scholarship money.

Bergeron said the only way for out-of-state students to vote without changing their residency is to request an absentee ballot.

"You can register the day of the vote but you can't go in and get a one day voter registration," Bergeron said. "Once they fill out the [New Hampshire voter registration] card, your address is permanently changed."

If students want to register to vote on the day of the election in New Hampshire and re-register at home during Thanksgiving or Christmas break, Bergeron said the process is very simple.

"They will have to sign a voter registration card ... and we will send a notice to that voter's previous town and notify them that they have changed their legal residence," he said.

Bergeron said although the alteration of residence for voter registration happens immediately, the motor vehicle division of New Hampshire does not cross check against the voter registration lists.

"In New Hampshire, voter registration is handled on a local level and is not tied into a state database," he said.