At a January 9/12 event with local tea partiers, the Republican House Speaker in New Hampshire, Bill O’Brien explained his problem with young voters.
“They go into these general elections, they’ll have 900 same day registrations, which are the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is [vote liberal],” he said. “They don’t have life experience and they don’t have life experience and they just vote their feelings and they’re taking away the town’s ability to govern themselves, it’s not fair.”
The remarks were caught on tape by a tracker with the New Hampshire Democratic party, but up until today they haven’t caused O’Brien much embarrassment.
Now, though, the national media has caught up with a major story in the Washington Post. The New Hampshire House is trying to put those words into law, with two bills designed to disenfranchise young voters — one to disallow them from voting if they or their parents haven’t established residency in that district, the other to disallow same-day voter registration altogether.
Both bills are winding their way through the committee process in the heavily Republican House. The state Senate, also Republican, hasn’t taken any action yet. New Hampshire’s governor, John Lynch, is a Democrat.
The push is a part of a trend in states, particularly where Republicans made major gains in the 2010 election. Many of those states are advancing voter ID laws, nominally meant to crack down on the unsubstantial problem of voter fraud, but which in practice are meant to disenfranchise young and poor liberal voters.
Even Wisconsin, under intense national scrutiny as protesters march to protect collective bargaining rights for public sector workers, the legislature passed a Voter ID bill “requiring certain identification in order to vote at a polling place or obtain an absentee ballot.”
Some of these bills as written are of questionable constitutionality. But that’s beside the point when the point is to sow confusion and uncertainty on election day. Watch Speaker O’Brien in the video below.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at email@example.com.