Buttigieg addresses student voting rights in New Hampshire

Published: Oct. 25, 2019 at 9:09 AM EDT
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Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg is making another swing through New Hampshire as he continues his bid for the Democratic nomination. It comes as some say student voting rights in the Granite State are under fire. Our Adam Sullivan reports.

College campuses like Colby Sawyer in New London are popular stops for presidential candidates. But the impact students could have on the upcoming election remains uncertain.

A standing ovation greeted the young mayor from South Bend, Indiana. The town hall was focused on women's rights and equality.

"I think all of us in some way or another had have been made to feel less than. Have been put on the wrong side of some kind of wall," Buttigieg said.

The line to get into the event-- which was a mix of older adults and college kids-- stretched around the campus.

"I've seen a couple debates and I just want to get more involved," said Emily Carrigan, a freshman.

What the first-time voter from Massachusetts does not know is where she'll cast her ballot.

"Ummm, I'm not sure yet. Wherever I end up," Carrigan said.

That's partially because voting laws in the Granite State have changed. House Bill 1264 makes voting in New Hampshire an act of declaring one's residency. Many students are not aware of its ramifications.

"I'm not super sure about it that is why I said Massachusetts," said Matt Russell, a junior.

Unlike past years, the new law requires students to get a New Hampshire driver's license and register their vehicles.

"Personally speaking, I think I should be able to vote in the state I spend most of the year in which is New Hampshire. For example, I worked the entire summer up here," Russell said.

But supporters of the new law say it equals the playing field. According to a statement released by Gov. Chris Sununu's office: "Every person who votes in New Hampshire will be treated the same. This is the essence of an equal right to vote."

Buttigieg briefly weighed in on the issue Friday.

"If one party has decided that it's important for them to succeed that fewer people vote, I would think that is a sign that maybe your policies need a look," he said.

Caroline Koziol of New York says she'll be voting back at home to represent where she grew up, though she acknowledges fears that the law could suppress the democratic process in the college crowd.

"I think I see both sides with that," she said. "I think it does make it a little harder to vote."

The new law is being challenged in the courts. In the meantime, presidential candidates continue to court the student vote.

One of Buttigieg's competitors for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is backing the suit aimed at blocking the new law. Warren weighed in on the issue Thursday during her campaign stop at Dartmouth College.

"The governor of New Hampshire wants to keep students from voting because I assume he's worried that they are not going to be voting for his team. And that really worries me," Warren said.