In a democracy that cares about consent of the governed, everybody loves voting. Who wouldn’t? Voting empowers every citizen to express their voice. We the people elect our political leaders; we the people chart out our own destiny; we the people get to decide our own bright future. As an American, you deserve the opportunity to vote.
…but only if you happen to not be busy on a seemingly random Tuesday; am I right?
Despite strong political disagreement across our country, nearly every state now offers early voting. From South Carolina to New York, Idaho to New Mexico, states of all political stripes and backgrounds allow their citizens to vote early because it is the perfectly sensible thing to do. In the 46 states that offer early voting, voters get multiple weeks, often including weekends, to cast their ballot, giving voters the flexibility to choose what day and time works best for them. No longer forced to have their voices denied just because their shift at work lasted longer than they expected, nearly every American has far more than only 12 hours in the middle of the work week to cast a ballot.
That is, almost every American. If you happen to live in the four states that don’t offer early voting, your state government has decided it does not think you deserve more than half a day to cast your ballot. You have a lab after your classes and won’t be finished until 8 p.m. that day? I guess you can’t vote.
By not having any early voting, New Hampshire stands practically alone in making life harder for its citizens for no good reason. Connecticut, one of three other states besides New Hampshire without early voting, will likely pass a referendum this fall to allow early voting in future elections. Very soon, New Hampshire will stand on the hill of making voting needlessly stressful and difficult with only two others: Alabama and Mississippi, states famous for so harshly suppressing voters that it necessitated the passage of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark civil rights movement law.
In fact, voting laws in New Hampshire are, in some areas, worse than Alabama and Mississippi’s voting laws. Alabama’s state government has discovered the internet and allows online voter registration, which 42 other states have also enacted. Mississippi allows its citizens to register to vote by mail. In fact, every single state with voter registration allows people to register to vote by mail except New Hampshire. That’s right — New Hampshire is the only state in the nation where you are not allowed to register yourself to vote. Instead, a clerk has to do it for you. Your town hall is only open until 4 p.m., and you have work? Sorry.
Why? Is our state government incapable of doing what every single other state can accomplish, the incredibly complex task of… letting citizens fill out a voter registration form by themselves?
Our state government has no excuse to treat voters this way. Asking for early voting, online voter registration — come on, even paper voter registration — is not asking for the moon. This is asking for the bare minimum.
Instead, our state government wastes time and money searching for voter fraud that does not exist, and on passing laws to make voting harder for overseas military voters, leaving the people of New Hampshire with an electoral system that senselessly makes voting more difficult. If our current Republican governor and state legislative majority get re-elected, their efforts to make voting even harder are unlikely to end anytime soon.
With our state’s next election coming up on Tuesday, Sept. 13, the only defense for most New Hampshire voters is to mark their calendars. Unfortunately, this election falls on the second day of Dartmouth’s fall term –– a day when most Dartmouth students, professors, staff, local small business owners and many other local residents will be extremely busy as we begin another school year.
But that’s the price we seemingly have to pay if we want to live in New Hampshire… we only get half a day to vote, for absolutely no good reason.
It’s long past time for our state government to catch up. Let us vote early.
Nicolás Macri is a member of the Class of 2024 and a Democratic candidate for the New Hampshire House of Representatives, running to represent Hanover and Lyme (Grafton County District 12).
Opinion section editor Thomas Lane ’24 was not involved in the production of this column due to a conflict of interest.
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