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UNH professor and recent graduate take voting awareness to new level

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, October 5, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02

Eman Pahlevani was a student of Albert “Buzz” Scherr. Last spring, while he was in Scherr’s Criminal Procedure class, an application development company that Pahlevani and his brother founded released a smartphone app called CrimePush.

The idea of the app was to allow those who were observing crimes as they were occurring to, with the push of a button, report the crime to the local police department. The app would also allow events to be videoed and sent to the police. UNH police has now adopted Pahlevani’s app.

“Eman and I talked frequently about the app, as it was related to the class I was teaching and he was in,” Scherr said.

That is only part one of the story, Scherr said.

Scherr is the president of the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. The organization’s main concern is in regard to voters’ rights, particularly legislation that makes it harder for people who are entitled to vote to actually vote.

As Scherr thought about Pahlevani’s CrimePush app, he came up with the idea that a voters’ rights version of it would be “the perfect marriage of 2 century technology with ensuring the right to vote.”

Over this past summer, Scherr worked closely with Pahlevani to develop the app.

“I was responsible for the content and Eman and his company, the technology,” Scherr said.

According to Scherr, the app is particularly tailored to students because they are the heaviest smartphone users and because they seem to get hassled more than other voters when they go to the polls to vote.

“Apparently, some in New Hampshire believe that students should spend money in this state on their tuition and living expenses but should vote elsewhere,” Scherr said. “We disagree; in fact, the law does not require someone to have a N.H. driver’s license or car registration to vote. It only requires them to be domiciled in N.H. at the time they vote, which does not require a declaration that the student intends to permanently reside in N.H.”

The NHCLU recently won a case in New Hampshire stating exactly that. The organization was representing three UNH students in that litigation, according to Scherr. This case is now to appeal to the N.H. Supreme Court.

Despite the controversy has been stirred in the news about the state no longer allowing students to vote without having identification present at the polls, students appear to be on board with the goals that the new app promotes.

UNH senior and political science enthusiast Rachel Follender had an interesting point to convey in particular.

“There are many instances in which young, inexperienced voters are turned away from voting booths because they don’t have everything they need in terms of proper information,” Follender said. “I think college students in particular are more likely to seek information through an app on their smartphone.”

Scherr has said that the app has two distinct goals: the first is to educate voters as to the documents they need to register (same-day registration is available) to vote, and that which polling officials may say they need but don’t. The second is to allow voters, when at the polls trying to register or to vote, to call the Attorney General’s office hotline to report a problem or to video their encounter with the polling official and email it to the NHCLU, so it can work with the Attorney General’s office or others to solve the problem.

“In terms of all of the recent voter ID issues, I think it’s an issue and it disenfranchises voters,” Follender said. “I think the biggest groups of disenfranchised voters are poor people and minorities. However, I’m sure the issue still arises for some students, and it’s important that their rights are protected and that these people are able to cast a vote.”

Scherr, along with the rest of the NHLCU, view this app as a tool to empower student voters and other populations who are smart phone users and vulnerable to intimidation or hassling at the polls to resist the impulse not bother to vote or to leave if hassled.

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Sat Oct 6 2012 14:11
No one in this article is at all saying that anyone should be able to vote twice. Learn to read.
Sat Oct 6 2012 03:23
Given that Fox News has been pushing the "college students will vote twice" line for over a year now, don't you think they would actually have found an example of this by now?

Discouraging civic participation in young adults will only serve to harm our democratic process for decades to come.

Fri Oct 5 2012 20:35
I totally agree that this whole nonsense about "disenfranchising" voters is raw lies meant to deceive just based on the title or degree the speaker holds.

It is absolutely the voter's responsibility to vote at home, and a dorm is NOT home. Allowing people to vote in two places is a terrible fraud on the system, and the people like Follender who claim otherwise are flat out lying.

Fri Oct 5 2012 20:08
Well if you actually read any studies on the matter you'd know that the vast majority of voter fraud occurs on the part of those actually counting the votes, not by voters themselves. In fact I'll let you in on a secret here in NH; if by the time they count the votes they see that the margin of victory in any race is less than the number of people who registered to vote on election day they go through each ballot by hand and verify eligibility before certifying the outcome.

So you're actually getting caught up in a crisis that doesn't actually occur, and even if it DID occur would be caught pretty quickly.

Fri Oct 5 2012 14:59
My question to the idiot app inventors is this: What is to prevent out of state students from surrounding states from voting early in their own states, or going home to their own states the same day they vote here in NH? The answer of course is nothing is preventing them from doing this, and thus defrauding the system and disenfranchising the votes of honest, law abiding, citizens. F***ing idiot college professors jumping on this strawman 'voter disenfranchisement' propaganda campaign of the left. TYPICAL!

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