Pamphleteers dissuade students from voting

by Elise Waxenberg | 11/2/04 6:00am

Right down to Election Day, the question for many student voters who have yet to register in New Hampshire is not whom they will vote for, but whether or not they should vote in the state at all.

Students have been showered in Democratic and Republican party leaflets about student voter registration for the past several weeks, but legal questions still linger for out-of-staters who plan to take advantage of New Hampshire's same-day registration laws. According to representatives of both parties, challenges will most likely await them at the polls.

Last night, in a last-minute effort to contact student voters, unidentified volunteers circulated pamphlet-sized posters paid for by the New Hampshire Republican State Committee under students' doors in several College residence halls. One side of the leaflet promoted President Bush's record while the other listed possible legal repercussions for students registering in New Hampshire under a header that said "Are you an eligible voter?"

In retaliation, Democratic volunteers dropped pamphlets under doors late last night urging students not to be deterred by the Republicans' warnings.

New Hampshire Democratic Party spokeswoman Kathleen Strand called the Republicans' pamphlets just another example of their efforts to intimidate and misinform voters.

"It is clear Republicans are proactively and aggressively trying to repress the student vote," she said.

The Republican pamphlet warned that "changing your legal address could have wide-ranging implications legally and financially" and cited a statue requiring those who establish legal residence in New Hampshire to obtain a state driver's license and car registration.

The bottom of the poster mentioned that students who change their legal address risk having their health insurance, car insurance, income taxes and scholarship monies affected.

The New Hampshire Republican Committee, which paid for the drop, said it was only trying to clear up some misconceptions about state law.

"The Democrats are casting a lot of aspersions out there," said Jayne Millerick, chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Committee. "They basically say don't listen to anyone who tells you have to change your car registration after you vote," she said, noting that the secretary of state's website says the opposite.

Millerick said, "We feel as though for the last two weeks the Democratic party has not been truthful to students."

She said that her party will ensure that everyone who can legally vote in New Hampshire today will be able to do so, and she expects that local officials will deliver a "clear and fair" election for the state.

Strand added that her party, too, is "letting students know their options" and said that Republicans are using the laws to scare voters away from the polls.

The legal disputes from recent weeks will continue today, as each party plans on dispatching hundreds of lawyers to various polling places around the state, where they will deal with challenges to registrants' rights to vote in the state and questions about legal ramifications for students.

The Office of Residential Life received some complaints about the pamphlet drop yesterday, according to Dean of Residential Life Martin Redman. Democrats also distributed campaign literature recently, but Redman said he did not know of any calls being made to his staff about those pamphlets.

"We have to catch whoever did it," Redman said.

Millerick said the College Republicans helped with the pamphlet distribution, but Aaron Graham, a College Republicans National Committee field representative, said his organization had nothing to do with it.