Republicans Complicate Processes of Student Voting


Cartoon by Anna Tighe/The Ram



Cartoon by Anna Tighe/The Ram
Cartoon by Anna Tighe/The Ram

Thousands of college students will attempt to register to vote in the coming months only to be turned away. Students who have an out-of-state driver’s license, and even those who have an in-state driver’s license but who pay out-of-state tuition, will be told, “Sorry, you can’t vote.” The right to vote is under attack.

Even if students manage to get registered in their home state and precinct, their votes are often uncounted. The onerous process of requesting an absentee ballot (which often requires students to send in their ballot requests a full month in advance) results in student ballots being received too late by their precincts, even when students plan well ahead. In other words, many college students who manage to get registered to vote will not have their votes counted.

For all of these reasons, young adults already vote in much smaller numbers than their older peers. Yet, Republican state lawmakers are on a crusade to further stifle student voting. To date, seven states have passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (such as an in-state driver’s license or passport) to vote, which many students do not have. 27 other states are considering similar measures.

Republicans are at war with the right to vote. Groups that tend to vote Democratic, such as blacks, Hispanics, the poor and students, have been targeted by Republican legislation specifically designed to stifle turnout. Over 21 million Americans do not have government IDs, and they overwhelmingly come from these Democratic-voting groups.

How do they justify this? Simple, Republicans claim they are preventing “voter fraud.” This ignores a simple fact: there is almost no voter fraud in America. In fact, the Department of Justice investigated over 300 million votes cast between 2002 and 2007 and found no cases of voter impersonation fraud.

Some Republicans have no problem revealing the real reasons behind their war on voting. William O’Brien, speaker of the New Hampshire State House, said last March that students, “voting as a liberal,” are “foolish” and “vote their feelings” because they lack life experience and “that’s what kids do.” He uses this blasphemously arrogant “logic” to support measures to end same-day registration (which many students take advantage of) and prohibit students from voting at their college addresses. O’Brien even pushed a bill that would have prohibited students who had previously lived elsewhere from voting in New Hampshire.

Restrictions such as these will only increase our generation’s apathy toward America’s democratic system. Republicans should cease their shameless war on voting and acknowledge it for what it is: a pathetic attempt to win an election by disenfranchising voters.

Canton Winer, FCRH ‘15, is an undeclared major from West Palm Beach, Fla.