It's now up to New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu to decide whether to do away with some registration requirements that students say amount to a poll tax.
The state Senate last week joined the state House – both controlled by Democrats – in voting to drop a requirement that collegiate voters have in-state driver's licenses and car registrations. Sununu is a Republican.
Opponents of those requirements, instituted last year when Republicans ran the state legislature, said they amount to a poll tax that discriminates against the state's students.
The rollback legislation has generated intense interest on the state's college campuses, where turnout could prove decisive in the nation's first Democratic presidential primary. Fresh off the Iowa caucuses the week before, a field that for now stands at two-dozen candidates is sure to shrink significantly after New Hampshire votes Feb. 11, and the turnout among collegiate voters could make the difference for some White House aspirants on the cusp of political survival.
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 Granite State.)
A sit-in protest by students at the Capitol last month resulted in 10 arrests.
State Sen. Tom Sherman, a Democrat who favors the rollback bill, told the New Hampshire Union Leader that registering a car and obtaining a driver's license can be expensive for a student. "That will turn some away from the polls," he said. "New Hampshire needs to encourage its students in civic participation and make them feel welcome."
But Republican state Sen. Regina Birdsell said repealing the requirement would actually create a two-tier system in which the laws would be applied differently to those who live in the state permanently and those there to attend college.
Sununu initially was concerned about last year's law, but he signed it after receiving an advisory opinion from the state Supreme Court saying it is constitutional.
The Federal Voting Assistance Program assists military members who need to vote via absentee ballot. A spokeswoman for the Defense Department said there would be "minimal disruptions" if the United States pulls out of the international postage agency.
Election officials are growing increasingly concerned that the Trump administration's trade war with China could make it more difficult and expensive for overseas voters — including those in the military — to cast ballots in the 2019 and 2020 local, state and federal elections.
The issue is the pending withdrawal in October by the U.S. from the Universal Postal Union, a group of 192 nations that has governed international postal service and rates for 145 years.
Last October, the U.S. gave the required one-year notice stating it would leave the UPU unless changes were made to the discounted fees that China pays for shipping small packages to the United States. The subsidized fees — established years ago to help poor, developing countries — place American businesses at a disadvantage and don't cover costs incurred by the U.S. Postal Service.
With the U.S.-imposed deadline for withdrawal or new rates fast approaching, states officials are running out of time to prepare for overseas mail-in voting.
Wambui Gatheru is the outreach manager at American Promise, which advocates for amending the Constitution to regulate the raising and spending of electoral campaign funds. Originally from Connecticut, Gatheru, 24, joined the American Promise staff in 2017 after graduating from the University of Connecticut.
The following Q&A has been edited for clarity and length.
What's the tweet-length description of your organization?
American Promise is a cross-partisan organization committed to getting money out of politics, forever, with a 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Describe your very first civic engagement.
Knocking door-to-door in my small town in Connecticut when Barack Obama was first running for president.
What was your biggest professional triumph?
Being a part of the effort that made New Hampshire the 20th state in favor of the 28th Amendment. This was something I'd been working on since I started at American Promise two years ago, and the legislation was just passed in March of this year. It was a surreal victory because it had been such a long fight. It took a lot of coordination on every level of civic engagement, but it's a victory I'm happy to have been a part of here at American Promise.