By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – About 130 protesters, many of them college-age students, staged a sit-in at the offices of Gov. Chris Sununu, executive council and the Secretary of State in the State House Tuesday opposing a new law that ties voting rights to vehicle registration.
Ten were arrested on misdemeanor charges.
Josie Pinto of Concord, spokeswoman for the New Hampshire Youth Movement, said the group was occupying key offices of state government to demand the passage of House Bill 106.
The bill has passed the House 213-154.
Its intent is to de-couple a 2018 law which requires those who vote to also register their vehicles in the town in which they plan to vote.
“Student voting rights are under attack,” Pinto said. “Starting this July, there is going to be a link between car registration and voting in the state that will disenfranchise thousands of out-of-state students who live here and deserve to be able to vote here, but shouldn’t have to pay such a high car registration cost to be able to vote here.”
The bill, as introduced, amends the general statutory definitions of “resident or inhabitant” and “residence or residency” to include an intent to maintain a principal place of physical presence for the indefinite future.
The bill also restores language removed from the law in 2018 and would go into effect July 1, before the next major election.
At about 3 p.m., on the second floor of the State House, students and their supporters lined the hallways and the lobbies of both the governor’s office and the Secretary of State’s office, singing and clapping.
State Police gave a warning to organizers to disperse and students lifted their fists up in the air, but stopped chanting.
The protesters said they were willing to occupy the offices and be subject to arrest on misdemeanor charges to make their point.
According to a news release from the NH Youth Movement, the group included people within the NH Youth Table, a coalition of youth organizations from around the state.