Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blocking Student's Right to Vote

I sometimes wonder if people forget that almost nothing is private anymore or if they really don't think people listen to the idiotic things they say. William O'Brien, New Hampshire's new Republican state House speaker, is the most recent politician to draw attention to himself by claiming college students lack "life experience," and "they just vote their feelings." And because their "youthful idealism" and the tendency to vote Democratic is an apparent inconvenience to Republican politicians, the New Hampshire house GOP is trying to pass a bill that will essentially take away many students right to vote.

Yes really.

The bill aims to curb voter fraud (that doesn't actually exist) and give long term residents more voting heft by preventing students from establishing residency in their college towns while in school, allowing them to vote only if they or their parents had established permanent residency there. (Military personnel stationed in New Hampshire would face similar problems.) They also want to eliminate Election Day registration, a procedure that is known to produce higher turnout of young voters. Wisconsin is using a different tactic to try and control student voting as well. Instead of barring residency, Wisconsin legislators are trying to pass voter I.D. laws. The problem with this is only a state identification or driver’s license, a passport or military ID will be accepted. Since student IDs are usually the only in state identification they have, many students would be barred from voting.

more about voter disenfranchisement efforts here

Interesting thing is, this move in New Hampshire has actually united students of different political ideologies on campuses. “Clearly there are some Republican legislators in these states that I do think have partisan motivation here,” said Rod Snyder, president of Young Democrats of America. But, he noted, “I think it has the potential to depress youth voter turnout in general. Regardless of which way young people are voting, these types of tactics are going to make it harder…. The bottom line is, we just want to make sure they have the opportunity to vote, regardless of what they decide.” Unfortunately Wisconsin hasn't gotten the same amount of non-partisanship, but the current union issues and the bills less obvious attack on student's voter rights makes that understandable.

Luckily, this issue is getting more press and the bill can still be vetoed by New Hampshire's Democratic Governor (though this is no certainty). It seems silly to complain about student's lack of civic engagement and simultaneously try and stop them from voting. As long as students meet the residency requirements of a state, I can't see any reason why they shouldn't be allowed to vote.


  1. What. The. Fuck?

    If someone is old enough to go and die for our country then they are certainly old enough to vote. I hope that this shit gets vetoed and laughed at.

    I'd much rather have idealistic students voting for our nations political leaders than the majority of citizens who go and vote with no idea who they're voting for.

  2. This is something I've really been thinking about a lot lately. I have an opinion that isn't fully formed yet, as I'm trying to see it from different views.

    So, let me ask you feel like students fully understand how taxes, health care, the economy, etc. truly effect them as an individual?

  3. Do you think most people fully understand how taxes, health care, the economy, etc. truly effect them as an individual? Can rich people vote on issues that effect poor people? I'm only asking cause it sets up the dynamic that only people who fully understand the issues are allowed to vote. While I'd hope that people take the time, I think we all know this isn't the case so I don't see why people who are allowed to die for their country can't vote in it.

    And I don't think college students are any more ignorant than the majority of the population.

  4. The right to vote should be denied to NO citizen in good standing.
    Period, end of discussion.

  5. April,
    Your question seems like the old Jim Crow Laws, "These people aren't smart enough to vote"

    If you do not allow students to vote, you cannot hold them to adult accountability standards either. It's different sides of the same coin. When you're an adult, you have responsibilities as well as benefits.

  6. "So, let me ask you feel like students fully understand how taxes, health care, the economy, etc. truly effect them as an individual?"

    I can only speak for myself (a student-age person) here but, yes, I do. If I didn't, then I'd be like some of my peers, who buy into the myth that "voting doesn't matter," and not even bother to register.

    Voting is something that is very important to me and to hear people like O'Brien and yourself dismiss me, my opinions, and, most importantly, my RIGHTS on the basis of nothing but my age is infuriating.

    I take time to educate myself on the issues and where each candidate stands on those issues. I take notes, I listen to what other people have to say and then I make *my decision* on who to vote for. I'm not brainless, I understand how taxes, health care and the economy effect me and I understand how they effect people OTHER THAN ME.

    That's the whole reason why I vote.

  7. I just want to point out that I don't think April is trying to silence anyone or say certain people shouldn't have the right to vote. She's just trying to weight both sides before making a decision. And really the bigger issue is whether or not people who are just living in a state for a short time should be able to have so much say in local issues. Some people may feel like they're disenfranchised even though they are long time residents, but obviously I don't think the solution if then disenfranchising students. I'm a student myself so we're talking about people of all ages and even military personnel.

    I just want to make sure the focus is on the issue and not April personally. Thanks guys!

  8. Right, I'm not trying to silence anyone at all. And actually, it was a statement that was brought up by my fiances father that made me ask that question. It was more asked because I wanted to hear what others had to say about it. So, Ghouldilocks, I wasn't dismissing you at all. I'm not sure what part of my question made you jump to that conclusion, but I do apologize if I made you feel that way. That wasn't my intention when I asked that question.

    And Mac, it was just a question. Not my sentiments.

    Alana, no I don't feel like a lot people fully understand how those things will truly effect them as an individual. I feel like *most* people vote based on what they're most passionate about.

    I don't feel that we should completely exclude students from voting. But I feel that there should be some sort of a test for people to be able to vote. I know that sounds silly, but it's just the way I feel. The right to vote is one of the greatest rights in this country. A right that I feel a lot of people take lightly.

    I'm not sure on this, so I'm going to ask..if a student is going to a college out of state, is the student still a resident of the state in which they live, and not the state in which they go to school?

    Again, I'm sorry if my question pissed anyone off. I really wasn't trying to argue that people of a certain age shouldn't be able to vote.

  9. If I'm being honest, I wish there was a way we could test people before they vote. The problem is people of color and the poor would be disproportionately disenfranchised though (which is exactly why these tests were used in the past). So in reality, I would never actually support any sort of effort to make this happen.

    The residency question is a better tactic for the GOP. Each state has different laws on when a person qualifies to vote. In most you only have to be in the state 30 days before an election and plan to live there "indefinitely." The problem is with that indefinitely part. What exactly does that mean? I plan to move from Utah eventually. Does that mean I shouldn't be allowed to vote? Apparently the New Hampshire GOP thinks so. They're also concerned college students might register to vote in NH when they're in college and also vote in their home state through absentee voting. Of course they don't actually have any evidence to show this is happening but that's not surprising.

    In the end I think a person shouldn't live in a college town if they don't want college student votes impacting local issues. Colleges give back to the community by supplying jobs, sports, and creative arts so I think the trade is pretty equal. Plus, college age people tend to vote more in national elections and not so much in other ones (which the midterms showed us yet again) so I still don't see why the GOP would consider this such a major issue.


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