To The Daily Sun,
Among the many rights we as Americans are granted, one stands above the rest – the right to vote. There is no force more powerful than the ability to choose the construct of one's society, and subsequently one's life. With the first-in-the-nation Primary Election behind us, it is important that our state learn from that experience. While the media focuses on the outcome of the Primary, what has received far less attention is the fact that many constitutionally eligible voters — in particularly student voters — were unjustly denied the right to cast their ballot on Tuesday.
On Primary Day, several Plymouth State students reported that they were wrongly turned away from the polls. They were told by apparently ill-informed poll workers that they could not vote either because they lacked identification, did not have a passport or birth certificate, or because they had out-of-state driver's licenses. Ultimately, the Attorney General's office had to dispatch an employee to Plymouth to monitor the situation and remind the poll workers of their legal obligations. There is no way of knowing exactly how many students were denied their right to vote before the Attorney General's office intervened.
A number of the students who were wrongfully turned away on Tuesday were disheartened and distraught by an experience that should have been one of empowerment and civic engagement. As a student trustee for the University System of New Hampshire, I have seen students endeavor to vote despite the barriers of recent years. Yet with all their passion for exercising their right to vote, students still need support from their community as they develop healthy voting habits and a sense of civic responsibility.
As one of the most influential actors in students' lives, universities are part of a student's support system but not the only influencers. Students need the support of the rest of their community stakeholders. Local and state governments are important players in cultivating students' strong civic engagement as they exercise their right to participate in the electoral process. If we expect students to develop into civic-minded and informed adults, we must encourage voting and impress upon our students the importance of civic responsibility.
Why is there such opposition to the student vote, and who has taken it upon themselves to violate student voting rights?
Student voting should not be a red or blue issue, yet many individuals take exception to students voting in New Hampshire. Many students relinquish political or social investment in their home towns and instead look to New Hampshire. They spend the majority of their four or more years here, held accountable under our laws and adding to our economy and social fabric. They are just as much a part of our society as those of us that claim New Hampshire as our residence and should be treated as such — we should all remember that come November. We must ensure that what happened in Plymouth on Tuesday never happens again.
Concord and Durham
- Category: Letters
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