OPINION | Voting restrictions limit student voting ability

The right to vote is under attack across our country, and this attack originated in our state.

Beginning in 2008 when the U.S. Supreme Court backed Indiana’s 2005 law that forced voters to show photo identification, thousands of senior citizens, the poor and minority voters have been locked out of casting ballots.

Butler University students have  also been affected because we do not have a state-issued identification card saying that we are residents, since we are enrolled at a private institution. Students at Purdue University or Indiana University could use their student IDs as proof of residency.

This action is keeping college students from voting and registering, and lawmakers should recognize the impact.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn said that not since the days of Jim Crow has he seen such an organized and direct attack on the voting rights of Americans.

The attack on college students is only occurring in states where conservatives control the governor’s mansion and the legislature, such as in Indiana.

The motivation is part of an effort to restict millions of voters out of a fear that our generation will be more engaged and more informed.

This year there are 64 million eligible young voters, and 90 million will be eligible by 2020. Young voters who turn out to the polls tend to vote for Democrats. In 2008, young students delivered two-thirds of their votes to Barack Obama.

Conservatives will create barriers for voting under the cause of preventing voter fraud. But these laws disenfranchise our generation,  since the laws create many barriers for those registering to vote.

Under Indiana law, each person who registers to vote must state his or her permanent address. But for Butler students, some have permanent addresses out of state while others make their campus address their permanent address. There is no rule on legal residence that applies to all college students, and each case is very different.

Nevertheless, with the May 8 primary right around the corner in Indiana, Butler students should know that if they wanted to vote and are not registered, they are out of luck. They had to register to vote by Monday—29 days before the election.

But I do not blame students for missing the deadline since they had no idea about the law, or they probably thought that they were unable to register to vote in Indiana.

However, they can still register to vote for the general election in November even if they live out of state. A social security number, and an address in Indiana, such as a residence hall, are required to register.

But the confusing part about the voter ID law is that some people might not have an Indiana issued photo identification card. The Butler ID might get students into the Health and Recreation Complex, but it will not allow them to vote. They can either go to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and get a free voter ID card, or they can even bring their passport and use that as a voter identification card when voting.  This is often a misconception.

At this point, college students are confused and frustrated over this process, resulting in low turnout numbers of young people—which is exactly what the conservatives want.

Defenders of this law will say that they are trying to prevent voter fraud. But not only would impersonating other voters one-by-one be an absurd strategy for stealing an entire election, there is already a deterrence for this: five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Sadly, these laws have disenfranchised many college students across the country and on Butler’s campus.


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