Primary election sees increased same-day registration

by Amanda Zhou | 9/13/18 2:50am

Barely a week after moving into college, Skylar Miklus ’22 realized they could vote the day of the New Hampshire primary elections. Although Miklus was already registered in Massachusetts, all they needed in order to register at the polls was their social security number, a photo ID and an email from Dartmouth’s office of residential life.

However, same-day registration, which allowed Miklus to vote, is at risk. Although few details of its future implementation have been released, the passage of House Bill 1264 may only allow people to vote in New Hampshire elections if they have a New Hampshire driver’s license.

Students make up a heavy portion of same-day registrations, according to Elaine Hawthorne, a supervisor of the checklist in Hanover who helps administer the election.

This year, 140 people registered on-site, a large increase compared to 18 and 34 people who registered on-site, respectively, in the past two primary elections.

The upswing in same-day registrations mirrors a larger trend nationwide — turnout is higher in this year’s primary elections nationally. According to the Pew Center of Research, as of July 27, the number of votes cast in this year’s Democratic house primaries was 84 percent higher than that in 2014.

Hanover is no exception. A total of 1,581 people voted yesterday, whereas 1,277 people voted in the 2016 presidential primary and 758 people voted in the 2014 midterm primary election.

The increase in voters registering at the polls is a victory for NextGen New Hampshire, an activist group that ran pledge drives this September on campus during freshman orientation and drove students to the polls.

Emma Bliska, the Dartmouth organizer for NextGen, said she believes the increase in turnout is partially due to the incoming class of college students being “one of the most politically mobilized” classes.

“These are students who were in high school during the Parkland shooting and Trump’s election,” Bliska said.

Although HB 1264 does not go into effect until July 2019, many students falsely believe they cannot vote in the midterm elections, according to Bliska.

Both Miklus and Ian Hou ’22 said they had heard rumors that they would not be able to vote or would have to pay to vote.

Youth turnout in the midterm election will affect the issues discussed during the 2020 election, Bliska said.

“If students turn out, presidential candidates will come here in 2020 and know they will have to answer to young people,” she said.

Regardless of how HB 1264 will be implemented, Hawthorne said no one who is already registered to vote in New Hampshire will be removed from the registry when the bill comes into effect next July. Those who register for the upcoming midterm election will be able to vote in future New Hampshire elections.

In the meantime, students will be able to register to vote at the polls during the Nov. 6 election, should they miss the campus registration drives.

The process was surprisingly painless for Hou.

“Usually when I deal with the government, everything is pretty slow,” he said.

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