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The Dartmouth
April 12, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Student political groups make preparations for the 2024 presidential election

The Dartmouth Democrats and Dartmouth Conservatives are registering voters and organizing programming to ensure students are prepared for the upcoming election.

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This article is featured in the 2023 Freshman special issue.

As the 2024 presidential primary elections approach, the Dartmouth Democrats and the Dartmouth Conservatives encourage the student vote through club programming and discuss their opinions on various candidates and issues. 

Dartmouth Democrats interim president Prescott Herzog ’25 said he is “excited” for the Class of 2027 to experience a presidential election in New Hampshire.

“[We are] super excited to have this incoming class coming in and to have them [experience] the first-in-the-nation primary right from the get-go in the 2024 election,” Herzog said.

Though the 2024 presidential election is still about 18 months away, Herzog said the Dartmouth Democrats are thinking “long term” about spreading awareness of students’ right to vote in New Hampshire and considering strategies for getting students out to vote in general.

Herzog explained that the New Hampshire Senate Bill 418 will make student voting “a little bit more complicated” in 2024. 

According to Democracy Docket, the bill requires voters lacking a valid photo ID to vote on a separate affidavit ballot. Following Election Day, voters must mail documentation establishing their identity within a seven day window. Otherwise, the vote will be discarded from official election day results. 

Herzog said that students often opt for same-day voter registration because it is “much more accessible.” He added that Senate Bill 418 will affect students because instead of solely signing an affidavit, students now have to have all of their paperwork on-hand. According to Herzog, a student voter must prove that they fulfill four criteria: age, citizenship, identity and residency.

“Your Dartmouth ID covers all [four criteria] except citizenship, so you have to have citizenship documentation or paperwork,” Herzog said. “Usually you could have just signed an affidavit, but now with this law, you still have to have a document proving your citizenship and show it within 10 days. A lot of people don’t bring their passport to campus or have a social security card with them on campus, so they’re going to need to have some sort of documentation of that if they sign the affidavit. ” 

Herzog added that the Dartmouth Democrats will manage a table in the Collis Student Center or Novack Cafe, where they will speak to students as they walk by — serving as a resource where they can answer questions about voting in New Hampshire. 

“Even though it’s early on, we’re shaping up and preparing,” Herzog said. “But definitely at these initial stages, we just want to start talking to people about the issues that they care about and then also ensuring that they know that they can vote in New Hampshire if they want to.”

Moreover, Herzog added the New Hampshire House is closely divided in regards to party breakup, so each “special election” has the potential to sway control of the House in favor of either the Democrats or Republicans.

As these elections approach, Herzog said the Dartmouth Democrats have plans to assist candidates in local elections by “making phone calls and potentially knocking on doors.”

Dartmouth Conservatives co-president Alex Azar ’25 said that the group is also preparing club programming related to the upcoming election. Azar said that though the Dartmouth Conservatives is not yet public with some of the events they hope to host in the fall, they have worked to prepare students for the election in other ways.

“We have directed our members [and] our attendees to the proper resources to register for the New Hampshire primary,” Azar said. “I think we really recognize the privilege that New Hampshire has had since 1920 to really set the tone of the primary and then, of course, the general election as a consequence.”

While the Dartmouth Conservatives is not a partisan club, according to Azar, it offers a space for conservative voices which, in consequence, aligns it with the Republican Party. As a result, Azar said that they are “looking to get [their] members to vote in the primary for a Republican candidate.”

“We have free rein to choose among all these dozens of candidates, conservative candidates, [so] we’re not stuck with whoever Iowa decides,” Azar said. “It’s time to do our due diligence and make sure we’re putting forward our best conservative candidate who can appeal to a median voter and who will, of course, continue conservative ideals.”

Dartmouth Conservatives social outreach coordinator Lexie Gauthier ’26 said that as the primaries approach, she is looking forward to having “hard discussions” within the club about the candidates.

“The Dartmouth Conservatives focus less on trying to get people to go out and vote,” Gauthier said. “We’re more political ideology based. There are so few of us on campus that we don’t really need mass canvassing efforts. Plus, our meetings are usually centered around hot topic questions, and I think it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out with the candidates that are coming to campus.” 

So far, Republican presidential candidates Nikki Haley, Asa Hutchinson and Will Hurd have visited campus and spoken to students. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and former Gov. John Huntsman (R-Utah) held an event in nearby Manchester, which fueled speculation about a potential independent bid for the presidency.

Malcolm Mahoney ’26, Dartmouth Conservatives member, observed that there has been an increase in intra-party fighting as candidates set out on the campaign trail. 

“I’m excited to see who's going to win [the Republican presidential primary] in New Hampshire,” Mahoney said. “I don’t think our state really likes people who are extreme, so I think it’s going to be interesting to see which moderate might be able to pull off winning the Granite State.” 

For Gauthier, a successful moderate in New Hampshire should prioritize “strong family values,” a topic which regularly comes up during Dartmouth Conservatives’ meetings. 

“I think candidates need to understand how intertwined family and pro-life values are,” Gauthier said. “I would say Second Amendment rights is another big-ticket item.”

However, Mahoney pointed out that there are “disagreement[s] between members over these issues.” 

“This is what separates us from the [Dartmouth] Republicans,” Mahoney explained. “We don’t all have to think the same. We’re allowed to think differently, which is why I think probably there will be a lot of splits into how members of the group will vote.”

According to Mahoney and Gauthier, many members of the Dartmouth Conservatives vote in their home states rather than in New Hampshire. 

“Personally, I vote in Montana because I know Montana politics,” Gauthier said. “I prefer to vote for people that I know, and I don’t plan on staying in New Hampshire.” 

Mahoney, on the other hand, said he is planning to vote in New Hampshire because he wants to “make New Hampshire home after graduation.” He also felt his vote was more valuable in a swing state like New Hampshire than his home state.

“My vote counts in New Hampshire, and it doesn’t in Massachusetts,” Mahoney said. “So, there’s that incentive, but I have been following New Hampshire politics closely since coming to Dartmouth. I do feel like I know enough of the people in the races, and I can make an informed decision on election day.” 

Mahoney and Gauthier both would like to see “President Trump not receive the Presidential nomination.” 

“I see that with a lot of young conservatives,”Gauthier said. “They see how divisive Trump was. It’s just not worth it to have somebody that continues to divide our country.”

The Dartmouth Republicans did not respond to a request for comment. The Dartmouth Libertarians declined a request for comment.

Azar is an opinion columnist for The Dartmouth.