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N.H. college kids decry new rules restricting their voting

The potentially pivotal New Hampshire primary is still 10 months away, but there's already anxiety about Democratic disenfranchisement.

Why? "Because the Republicans passed legislation to make it so that college students couldn't vote without paying a poll tax," Garrett Muscatel, a 20-year old Dartmouth student who's also a Democratic state representative, explained to the Daily Beast.

In the past, prospective voters needed only to prove they were living in New Hampshire to be eligible, one of the loosest residency requirements in the country. But last year GOP Gov. Chris Sununu, saying his aim was to tamp down on potential voter fraud, signed a bill requiring voters to have a state driver's license (which costs $50) and to register their vehicles in New Hampshire (another $300) or else face a misdemeanor charge.

At least eight Democratic candidates for president, all of whom are hoping to win the nomination with the help of an energized youth turnout, have condemned the statute. "Students are the ones who will have to deal with the decisions lawmakers make for decades to come," Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey tweeted. "Protecting their right to vote is paramount."

College students, who are mostly from out of state, account for roughly 90,000 of the state's 1.2 million residents. (Even at the University of New Hampshire only half the students come from the state.)

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Bills to repeal the new residency rules, or carve out an exception for college students, are moving in the Democratic controlled legislature, but not with enough support to withstand a potential veto. The state Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the law last year, but some Dartmouth students are now suing in federal court.

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