Student Vote

LFDA Editor

Students make up a large portion of the population in several towns in New Hampshire, including Durham, Keene, Hanover, and Plymouth. The issue of these students and their right to vote has been the subject of bills nearly every legislative session for the past few years.

Where should college students vote?

When it comes to voting, college students in and from New Hampshire have a choice:

  • They can vote in their home state using an absentee ballot.
  • They can vote in person in the state where they attend school. 

A college student must choose one option or the other: to do both would constitute an act of voter fraud. 

Voting while studying in NH

New Hampshire law does allow adults over age 18 who are attending college here to vote in our elections. 

  • Like all voters, they must register to vote.
  • They must also present an ID at the polls or sign an affadavit. A student ID for a New Hampshire college or university is considered valid ID for voting purposes. 

For more information on registering to vote, visit our Voter Registration Requirements issue page.

Areas of controversy

Several changes in state policy on voting and registering to vote that could effect students have been considered in recent years.

  • Attempts to narrow the definition of 'domicile', for example by excluding students who pay out-of-state tuition at New Hampshire schools
  • Attempts to pass a constitutional amendment only allowing residents of New Hampshire to vote here
  • Changing voter ID laws to exclude student IDs

A law that tightened the state's definition of 'domiciled' did pass in 2017, but the changes did not impact college students.



"For" Position

"Students from out-of-state should be allowed to vote in NH elections."

  • Banning students from voting, despite the fact that many live in New Hampshire for only nine months out of the year, is equivalent to voter suppression. 
  • It's a misconception that students lean to the left. 

"Against" Position

"Students from out-of-state should not be allowed to vote in NH elections."

  • Students are skewing the vote in college towns and earning the towns more liberal elected officials.
  • Students are not permanent residents and should not have the right to vote. Instead, they should vote by absentee ballot in their home state. 


In Committee

Changes the definition of domicile for voting purposes to make it more restrictive. For example, this bill explicitly excludes anyone who comes to the state "for a temporary purpose," such as volunteering or working on political campaigns. This bill also requires a voter to live in the state at least thirteen days before voting.

Killed in the House

Repeals the part of the voter ID law that allows voters to use student ID cards that expired within five years and student ID cards without any expiration date.

In Committee

Modifies various provisions relating to who is eligible to vote, for example requiring a voter to confirm they are a resident of New Hampshire. This bill also eliminates the separate election day voter registration form.

In Committee

States that "A person shall be deemed to have abandoned his or her domicile, for the purposes of voting or running for or holding elective office, if he or she claims residency in another state, files taxes as a resident of another state, claims a homestead exemption in another state, or sells and moves out of the residence where he or she was domiciled."

In Committee

Modifies the affidavit a voter signs to swear that he or she is domiciled in New Hampshire. For example, this bill makes it mandatory for the voter to provide a telephone number. This bill also only allows a voter to sign the affidavit when registering to vote on the day of an election; if registering to vote on another day, the voter must provide proof of domicile beyond the affidavit, such as a driver's license.

Killed in the House

Makes various changes to voter registration laws. First, this bill changes the definition of domicile to be "the person's permanent legal residence." The definition of domicile also requires someone to live in a district at least thirty days before voting in that district. Voters would have the new option of registering to vote at the DMV. This bill also eliminates election day voter registration, and requires voters to register at least thirty days before an election. This bill also requires voters be a registered member of a party before the date of a primary election in order to vote in the primary. Lastly, the bill requires New Hampshire colleges to issue student IDs that show if a student is in-state or out-of-state.

Signed by Governor

Changes the definition of domicile for voting purposes to make it more restrictive. This bill explicitly excludes anyone who comes to the state "for temporary purposes," such as volunteering or working on political campaigns. Out-of-state college students are still allowed to claim a domicile in New Hampshire. However, if someone moves to a new New Hampshire address within 30 days of voting, he or she must present proof of intent to stay in New Hampshire. This proof could include a lease, driver's license, a child's enrollment at a public school, etc. The voter has until 10 days after the election to provide this proof to the town clerk. If the voter does not present this proof, he or she may be investigated, including a home visit by election officials.

Killed in the Senate

Requires a voter to be domiciled in New Hampshire for at least ten days before voting, and narrows the definition of domicile (for example to exclude individuals who move to New Hampshire to work on a political campaign).

Tabled in the Senate

Modifies the general statutory definition of "resident or inhabitant" to replace "for the indefinite future" with "to the exclusion of all others."

Tabled in the House

Constitutional amendment that only allows residents to vote in elections. (At the time of this bill's submission, New Hampshire only needs to be a voter's domicile, which allows college students to vote without establishing residency).

Tabled in the House

States that a declaration of domicile for voting purposes establishes that address as the residence for car registration purposes.

Interim Study

Removes language from the voter registration form that suggests a voter who claims domicile must also have a New Hampshire driver's license. A voter must claim domicile, but not residency, to vote. Residency requires a New Hampshire driver's license, etc. The voter registration form currently reads, "In declaring New Hampshire as my domicile, I am subject to the laws of the state of New Hampshire which apply to all residents, including laws requiring a driver to register a motor vehicle and apply for a New Hampshire's driver's license within 60 days of becoming a resident." Some Democrats argue this wording is intended to discourage out-of-state college students from voting in New Hampshire.

Vetoed by Governor

Requires that a voter has lived in the state and county for at least 30 days.

Killed in the Senate

Tightens the definition of domicile for the purpose of voting.  In particular, the final version of this bill requires a voter to live in New Hampshire at least 10 days before voting.

Killed in the House

Removes career school student IDs from the list of acceptable voter identification.

Killed in the House

Makes any student with their name on a voter checklist eligible for in-state tuition.

Killed in the House

Requires the University of NH to indicate whether a student is in-state or out-of-state on each student ID card.

Interim Study

Forbids students paying out-of-state tuition at UNH from claiming New Hampshire as a domicile for voting purposes.

Senate Nonconcurred with the House

Establishes a commission to study uniform definitions of "domicile" and "residency" in state statutes.

Signed by Governor

Requires anyone that objects to a voter's ID to provide evidence that the ID does not prove the voter's identity.

Signed by Governor

Revises 2011 voter ID law to delay requirement that poll workers photograph voters without ID; also allows student ID at polls.

Tabled in the Senate

States that any person declaring a New Hampshire address as a domicile for voting purposes must also establish New Hampshire as his or her residency for motor vehicle law purposes.

Veto Overridden

Adds terminology to voter registration forms saying that a domiciled person may be subject to residency laws.

Veto Overridden

Requires voters to present identification at polling places.

Killed in the House

Changes the definition of "domicile" for voting purposes so that out-of-state students can not claim domicile in New Hampshire.

Killed in the House

Changes the definition of "domicile" for voting purposes so that out-of-state students can not claim domicile in New Hampshire.

Should out-of-state students be allowed to vote in NH elections?


Add a comment


Seth King
- Sugar Hill

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 3:51pm

No excuses for the whiny dems.

qigrisu's picture
Frederick Harvey
- Portsmouth

Sun, 04/26/2015 - 10:54am

It seems to me that the powers that be are becoming very "loosey goosey" about what is "law".


The issue of voting rights is in my mind now that the students and the Supreme Court are trying to understand what residency means!


Residency is where you live, not where you are visiting. It is "home".


Residency has a legal definition. If you use "casual laws" it will produce "legal casualties".  In the case of student permissions to vote out-of-state it means you will produce some voting fraud.


Students are often attending school "out-of-state". If you let them vote here when they come from "there", who is to say they will not "vote twice", once here, and once there?  They have every right already to vote with absentee ballot if they cannot make it home to vote, if they care to vote.


Come on NH lawyers, NH legislators and NH Judges. Get your act together. Use the brains God gives you. Get "real".

I expect if you really try hard you can all come to the point where you really understand the laws you are coming up with.




qigrisu's picture
Frederick Harvey
- Portsmouth

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 10:52am

I am finding little discussion in the thread of the taxes paid by voters.


When we "vote" it is an opportunity to give "feedback" to our officials in the most important way.  Voting for those who make our laws here in NH, and those who ultimately govern the way our taxes are spent and how much in taxes we pay, is serious business.  Voter qualifications should be treated seriously, not to comport to some socially popular "dream". 


Well, how much tax does a student contribute during his few months of "domicile" while studying?


So, why does a out of state student's vote get to possibly nullify the vote of a regular taxpayer here in NH, when these student have no "skin in the game"?


Should not our voter qualifications have something do with who pays the freight?  Frankly, I have problems with votes that come from those who do not "contribute" financially to the state. Those votes are likely to be air head idealists, liberals, and other political hobbyists.

Tax payer pay the freight, and they should be the "deciders". Voting is about money, laws, and competence, not an "entertainment".


Students, if they vote, should vote from home, where their family at least is paying the freight, if they themselves have not yet achieved "income".  If they start by voting at home at least it will make their family life more interesting at high days and holidays!

Amanda Cram
- Loudon

Tue, 09/25/2012 - 9:24pm

I must say that I am absolutely disgusted that the out-of-state college students will be allowed to vote in our state elections!

This isn't a matter of voter fraud; this is a matter of students, with no ties to our state, being allowed to choose OUR governor, congress, senate, state and local legislature and then go back to their own state without a care of the leadership they left to us.

I got an absentee ballot to vote when I was an out-of-state college student. It isn't that hard!

I ask, what is next? Should we let the tourists get to vote here too? How about those who come up every weekend? At least many of them are property owners. If they want that much of a say in our elections, then they should become a resident.

If they're too lazy to obtain an absentee ballot from their own state, then why bother voting?

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Issue Status

SB 3, passed by the Senate and House and signed into law by the governor, changed the definition of domicile for voting purposes to make it more restrictive, specifically excluding anyone who comes to the state "for temporary purposes," such as volunteering or working on political campaigns. However, the law explicitly states that college students from out-of-state are still eligible to vote in New Hampshire.

In August 2017, the New Hampshire Democratic Party filed a lawsuit challenging SB 3, stating that the “brand new, highly confusing, unnecessary and intimidating hurdles to voting” laid out by the bill will “not only burden and, in some cases, disenfranchise eligible, lawful New Hampshire citizens, but will expose countless innocent voters to criminal and civil liability.” The League of Women Voters filed a similar lawsuit. Just ahead of the September 12 elections, Judge Charles Temple allowed the law to go into effect but prohibited the state from enforcing penalties for violation.


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