This is what is known as a poll tax, which is unconstitutional. But Republicans are close to passing it in New Hampshire anyway.
The 26th Amendment to the Constitution, which was ratified in 1971, clearly states:
The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of age.
Back in 2011, then-New Hampshire GOP House Speaker William O’Brien talked about passing legislation that would prevent college students from voting. His main problem with college students voting is that they tend to vote for Democrats.
In that discussion with an audience made up older white Republicans, O’Brien whined about “the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do — they don’t have life experience, and they just vote their feelings.”
Here’s the video via YouTube.
And now, New Hampshire Republicans are close to doing exactly that, and O’Brien will be there to vote for it because he is still in the statehouse.
According to Slate:
The new bill moving through the state Legislature, known as HB 372, is much worse. Under current law—which is a reflection of federal court mandates—an individual may vote in New Hampshire if she is “domiciled” there. That simply means she resides in the state “more than any other place,” a standard that comports with the U.S. Constitution. Under HB 372, however, an individual is allowed to vote in New Hampshire only if she is a “resident.” And residency status carries two affirmative obligations: Within 60 days of becoming a resident, an individual must register her car with the state and obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license.
This process would be costly for any college student. They could end up spending hundreds of dollars to vote in the state they now live in. Driver license fees, license plate fees, registration fees, etc…will cause many college students to give up their right to vote, and that is plainly un-American and unconstitutional.
Like a lot of recent voting laws in New Hampshire, this one will likely be struck down by federal courts. After all, the Constitution is clear on this issue. Anyone 18 or older in this country can vote, and poll taxes are forbidden. No one should have to pay money to vote. If that were the case, only the voices of the richest would count.
Unfortunately, Republicans are in a position to change the composition of our federal courts, which means they can place conservatives on the bench which will allow these kinds of laws to stick whether the Constitution allows them or not.
Republicans are not even pretending anymore that their voter suppression effort is nothing more than an effort to keep Democrats from voting.
That’s why it’s important for everyone to make sure they can vote and do everything in their power to vote in every single election. Because the next time you vote could very well be the last time if Republicans have their way.