College students can determine the outcome of any election, making our voices absolutely essential in the democratic process.
In 2016, New Hampshire college students likely determined the outcome of the US Senate race for the seat now held by Senator Maggie Hassan. As a current US Senator and former New Hampshire Governor, she won her 2016 election by only 1,017 votes!
Although this example illustrates the power students can have on voting in New Hampshire, the Trump administration and some legislative leaders are currently trying to limit this access. One example is HB 1264, a 2018 law pushed by state Republicans and signed by Gov. Sununu that had the intent of making it harder for New Hampshire students to vote here. Regardless of these roadblocks, the bottom line is that New Hampshire students and those who are sheltering away from New Hampshire because of COVID-19 and intend to return are still considered to live here for voting purposes and can and should vote here.
It is in the best interest of any college student to vote. The federal and state government make significant decisions that affect administration of colleges. State public colleges, including University of New Hampshire, Keene State University, Plymouth State University, and the NH Community College System, depend on funding from the government. This funding affects the cost of tuition, the condition of buildings, academic programs, staffing, food, athletic equipment, and all other significant aspects of a public university. Voting also allows college students to have their generation represented in government. The average elected official in New Hampshire is 63 years old, and most are not focusing on issues that matter to the younger generation, such as loan rates, climate change, education access, and reproductive health care access.
Reproductive health care is a significant matter for college students. College is a popular time for students to explore their sexuality, and Planned Parenthood gives them access to affordable contraceptives, STI testing and treatment, and other essential services. However, the Trump administration and anti-reproductive health care NH legislators are trying to restrict funding and access to Planned Parenthood. If the Trump Administration continues to hold power, access to Planned Parenthood’s services will continue to be under threat, potentially limiting the health care of college students.
This fall, voting structure will be different than ever before, especially for college students like myself. For example, my college, Southern New Hampshire University, campus converted to complete online learning due to the safety hazards from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are also voting absentee to protect the health and safety of their communities. Although it may feel like another obstacle for young voters, it’s not as hard as it seems. Please hear me out:
Vote. Your voice matters.