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More Younger Voters Drawn to Local NH Elections

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Monday, October 24, 2022   

The midterm election will be the first since New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed one of the nation's strictest abortion bans, and voting rights advocates say it is one of the biggest reasons younger people plan to vote next month.

At the University of New Hampshire, Dartmouth and Plymouth State, organizers said students are increasingly asking about statewide and local races as well, and they want to know where the candidates stand on issues of LGBTQ rights and student debt relief.

Eva Ford, communications director for the New Hampshire Youth Movement, thinks older voters often assume young people are just "checked out."

"So, maybe they think that maybe the 20-something eating their avocado toast isn't paying attention to their local state rep race, but they might not know that young person would care," Ford pointed out. "That young person probably does care."

Ford added young voters are well versed in national politics, but they often struggle to find good resources on local candidates, or the time to learn about them, between the demands of work and school.

New Hampshire Youth Movement is coordinating efforts with college organizations and other voting-advocacy groups to ensure students have transportation to the polls. New Hampshire allows eligible voters to register on Election Day, but Ford noted too often, college students think they are not eligible, simply because they are from another state.

"I think that when a lot of young people turn out, they can become the mass majority pretty quickly," Ford asserted.

Ford explained a big part of her work is to make elections more accessible to young people who want to engage with their community, even if it is only their temporary home until graduation.

Other groups are working to get young, like-minded candidates onto the ballot.

Matt Mooshian, advocacy and engagement director for the group 603 Forward, which provides free training to younger people on how to run an effective political campaign, said his organization has trained more than 300 candidates and helped more than 100 win office.

"I think that young people are ready for new leadership who is going to take the issues that matter most to our generation seriously," Mooshian contended. "And is going to address them in an urgent manner."

More than 80 young candidates are on next month's statewide ballot, including some running for county office, sheriff and state representative seats. Mooshian said his group is also encouraging young people to make a plan for where, when and how they will vote on Election Day.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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