Student Voting Guide | New Hampshire

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of New Hampshire.

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of New Hampshire. If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.


In general, all registration in New Hampshire must be done in person;[1] you can register up to ten days before Election Day at your town or city clerk’s office,[2] or at a meeting of the Supervisors of the Checklist (elected officials who maintain the list of all registered voters for their jurisdiction and are required to meet on the Saturday 10 days prior to each election),[3] or on Election Day at the polls.[4] Whenever you register to vote in person, you’ll have to provide ID that proves your identity, age, citizenship, and residency (see Identification section below).

However, if you are eligible to vote by absentee ballot and are not able to register at the clerk's office because you are temporarily absent or because of physical disability, you can register absentee.[5]  You will need to request an absentee voter registration form and an absentee voter registration affidavit from your city or town clerk or the Secretary of State, and then complete the documents and return them to the city or town clerk.[6]  Your absentee voter registration affidavit will have to be witnessed by one other individual.[7]  You need to enclose proof of your identity and address with your voter registration form.[8]  You do not have to vote absentee if you register absentee.

You can register to vote if you will be 18 by the next election.


At School. The Secretary of State of New Hampshire has specifically stated that students have the right to choose between keeping their residence at the place they lived before attending school or establishing residency in their school community.[9]  New Hampshire’s laws make clear that students need only meet the same standards as other voters in establishing residence: you need only live in New Hampshire and have the intent to return when you leave.[10]  The mere intent to change residence in the future (such as after graduation) does not stop you from establishing residency in New Hampshire.[11]

At Home.  Like most states, New Hampshire allows students to keep their voting residency even if they temporarily move out of the county or state to attend school.[12]  The only way you might lose this residency is by establishing residency in a new state. If you have established residence in another state and are moving back to New Hampshire with the intent to reside here, you will have to follow the normal registration procedures to re-register in New Hampshire. 

Challenges to Residency. If you fail to provide proper identification to prove your voter eligibility or residency (see Identification section below), you may sign an affidavit attesting to your qualifications to vote (age and citizenship) and your residency.[13]

Any citizen can file a complaint in court challenging a person’s eligibility to vote based on residency.[14]  A hearing will be held, and the judge can order the challenged person removed from the registration checklist if it is determined that the person is ineligible to vote.[15]

Any voter can also challenge your eligibility to vote at the polls on Election Day.  If the moderator determines the challenge is unfounded, you will be able to vote a full ballot.  If the moderator determines that the challenge is well grounded, you will not be able to vote unless you sign a sworn affidavit attesting to your qualifications to vote (age and citizenship) and residency.[16] Upon signing the affidavit, you will be able to vote a full ballot.


When you register to vote in person, you will be asked to provide proof of identity, citizenship, age, and domicile (your address), by providing various forms of identification, but you can sign an affidavit as to each if you can’t produce ID.[17]

Proof of citizenship includes: a birth certificate, U.S. passport or naturalization papers.[18]  To prove your domicile, you must show “reasonable documentation” of it.[19] A current New Hampshire drivers’ license or car registration, or a U.S. government-issued ID that includes your name and address are presumptive evidence of your domicile, although other ID may also be accepted.[20] The question of whether student ID or other kinds of ID will count is left up to local registrars.[21] If you are planning to register on Election Day, you should check to make sure you bring the right kind of ID.

You’ll also have to prove your identity to show that the proofs of citizenship, age, and domicile all relate to you.[22] You’ll need to show photo ID, or have another voter identify you, or if all else fails, sign another affidavit asserting your identity.[23]

New Hampshire voters must provide photo identification at the polls.[24] Prior to voting, a voter must provide one of the following valid forms of photo ID:

  • A driver’s license issued by any state or the federal government;
  • An identification card issued by the motor vehicle agency of any state;
  • A United States armed services identification card;
  • A United States passport;
  • A valid student identification card;
  • A photo identification not authorized specifically above, but determined to be legitimate by the supervisors of the checklist, the moderator, or the town or city clerk; or
  • Verification of the voter’s identity by an election worker.[25]

The ID must have an expiration date or issuance date, but the ID will remain valid 5 years beyond the expiration or issuance date.[26] A list of institutions issuing compliant student ID can be found here. Student identification cards without an expiration or issuance date will be accepted until 2018.[27] The name on the ID must substantially conform to the name on the registration record.[28]

If you do not have any of the above IDs, you may obtain a free photo ID for voting purposes only, by presenting a voucher from your town/city clerk or the Secretary of State to any New Hampshire DMV.[29]

If you do not present any of the above IDs at the polls, you will be permitted to vote after signing a “challenged voter affidavit.”[30] Following the election, you will receive a verification letter from the Secretary of State requesting confirmation that you voted. You must respond within 90 days of the date of mailing.[31]  

Absentee Voting

If you are absent from your town of registration on Election Day or are unable to get to the polls on election day due to religious observance or physical disability, you can vote by absentee ballot.[32]  The blank application for an absentee ballot is available on the web site of the Secretary of State here. You can mail or fax in your application; there’s no deadline for your application to be received, but you will want to leave enough time for the clerk to send you a ballot and have you return it on time.  If you mail in your absentee ballot, it must be received by the clerk by 5 p.m. on Election Day.[33]

If you are registering to vote for the first time and you intend to vote absentee, you can register to vote as an absentee voter. You will need to enclose ID if you register to vote absentee. With your absentee registration, you can send a copy of a current and valid New Hampshire driver’s license or a copy of a photo ID issued by the U.S. government that shows your name and address.[34]  Or you can send a copy of any other current and valid photo ID along with a copy of a second piece of identification showing your name and address, including a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document.[35] Your application must also have a witness.[36]

Last Updated August 15, 2014

[1] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:28.

[2] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:8.

[3] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:28.

[4] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:7-a(II).

[5] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:16.

[6]  Id.

[7] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:17(II).

[8] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:17(I).

[9] Voting as a College Student in New Hampshire and Voter Registration, Sec’y of State of N.H.,

[10] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:1(I), (I-a); Newburger v. Peterson, 344 F. Supp. 559 (D N.H. 1972) (students cannot be required to show indefinite intention to remain in New Hampshire in order to register to vote).

[11] Id.

[12] Voting as a College Student in New Hampshire and Voter Registration, Sec’y of State of N.H.,

[13] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:12(II).

[14] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:42.

[15]  Id.

[16] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:27.

[17] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:12.

[18] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:12(I).

[19] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:12(I)(c).

[20] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:12(II)(a).

[21] Voting as a College Student in New Hampshire and Voter Registration, Sec’y of State of N.H.,

[22] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:12(III).

[23]  Id.

[24] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:13.

[25] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:13(II).

[26] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:13(II).

[27] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:13(II)(a)(5)(B).

[28] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:13(II).

[29]  Voter Identification Law, Explanatory Document, Sec’y of State of N.H.,

[30] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:13(II).

[31] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 659:13(IV).

[32] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 657:1.

[33] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 657:22.

[34] N.H. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 654:17(I).

[35] Id.

[36] Id.