Over the past few election cycles, students and young voters have become an increasingly active voting bloc. Unfortunately, several barriers to the ballot box exist for young voters, especially college students who live on campus. The Politico ran a story yesterday on this very topic and I wanted to share it with you.
Voter ID laws are likely to disenfranchise young people, said Jonah Goldman, director of the National Campaign for Fair Elections at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. In Milwaukee County, 74 percent of African-Americans and 66 percent of Hispanics aged 18-24 did not have a valid driver's license - the most common form of voter ID - according to a study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
However, it's not just voter ID laws that are disenfranchising young people. Over the years states have tried to restrict student voting by making it illegal to use a dormitory address to register, refusing to put a polling place on campus, and causing long lines by not committing enough resources to campus polling places. Some states have even resorted to using deception and intimidation. For example, in 2003 a Waller County, Texas district attorney wrote false information to the local paper telling students at Prairie View A&M, a historically black university near Houston, that they were unable to vote in Waller County and if they registered and voted they'd be arrested for "illegal voting."
With the 2008 election just around the corner, there are things we need to do to help increase student voting. The Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act has passed the House of Representatives and was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. This important piece of legislation would make it illegal to knowingly disseminate false election-related information, like the information put out by the Waller County DA, or intimidate voters, and provide a mechanism for the government to quickly distribute corrective information. While this important bill has passed several hurdles, it still has a ways to go. Please visit our website, http://www.stopdeceptivepractices.org/, and take action to help us pass this important bill.
Just as in past cycles, the National Campaign for Fair Elections will be a leader in the Election Protection coalition to help voters cast a meaningful ballot. We will continue to work with students and organizations targeting the youth vote to ensure they are able to register, stay on the voter rolls, vote, and have that vote counted. To help facilitate dialogue on student voting issues we've setup a Facebook group. Please visit and join the group.