Disenfranchising college students

It’s gotten a little less attention, but in addition to passing voter ID laws that disproportionately affect the poor and minorities (i.e., Democratic voters) to “protect” against the thoroughly non-existent problem of voter fraud, Republicans are doing the best that they can to make it harder for college students (i.e., read, likely Democratic voters) to vote as well.  A friend of the blogger and the blog, forwarded a tweet in response to an NYT Editorial on the issue that said, “a thousand dollars to anyone that can legitimately defend this behavior.”   Umm, depends on what you mean by “legitimate,” because he might owe $1000’s of dollars to many Republican state legislators.  Now, if you read legitimate to mean “with intellectual honesty and coherence” now then, I think his money is safe.  Here’s a bit from the Editorial:

Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote.

Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal…

It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. On Friday, the Justice Department, finally taking action against these abuses, blocked the new voter ID law in South Carolina.

Republicans usually don’t want to acknowledge that their purpose is to turn away voters, especially when race is involved, so they invented an explanation, claiming that stricter ID laws are necessary to prevent voter fraud. In fact, there is almost no voter fraud in America to prevent.

This is appalling, completely against (small d) democracy, and just plain bad public policy (you really want to do all you can to encourage young people to take a more active role in democracy, as civic participation builds upon itself).  Of course, that’s never really stopped Republicans from doing something for short-term political gain.  Argh.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

4 Responses to Disenfranchising college students

  1. Some of the out-of-state issues could be resolved by having campus student governments (or whatever entity is charged with getting word out about elections) campaign with information on acquiring absentee ballots for out-of-state students. It doesn’t fix the larger issue of what the laws are trying to do, but at least it helps facilitate students enjoying their right to vote. When it comes to local elections, though, I’d guess that students are more interested in what is happening in their campus area rather than back home, so why not try to help them make a difference where they live?
    I hated the notion: “that students are ‘foolish’ and tend to ‘vote their feelings’ because they lack life experience. ‘Voting as a liberal,’ he said, ‘that’s what kids do.'” Unreal.
    Thanks for sharing it!

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  4. RalfW says:

    “you really want to do all you can to encourage young people to take a more active role in democracy, as civic participation builds upon itself”

    Your optimism is refreshing. I don’t think the modern GOP gives a rat’s tuchus about people having an active role in democracy. They are 100% the party of oligarchy now, and democracy is too messy a way to distribute the rent-seeking, prime contracts and tax cuts the GOP is intent upon securing.

    We’ve reached a point in our ill republic where one party no longer participates in the compact established in the late 1700s: the Republican party is removing itself from any commitment to democracy. That has to be recognized in moves like the Voter ID laws.

    They don’t just want to win more often. They want to rig the whole deal.

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