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Wednesday, 28 December 2011 01:46

Republicans Denying College Students the Right to Vote: The Mugging of Democracy

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The Republican Party is conducting a war to keep college students from voting.

In GOP-controlled states, this war on college students is part of an orchestrated campaign to enact legislation that would limit a wide range of constitutionally entitled voting: from obstructing college student voter registration to making it harder for seniors, minorities - and anyone who is in a demographic group that tends to vote Democratic - to vote for the candidates of their choice.

The bad news is that many of these laws are now in place; the good news is that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is reviewing some of these efforts, but not all of them by any means. Just last week the DOJ indicated that it will oppose the South Carolina voter ID requirement.

In a December 27th New York Times (NYT) editorial, it is noted that:

Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver's license or a passport) to vote, which many students don't have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver's licenses from being used for voting.

The New York Times editorial board deplores the efforts to limit the most fundamental exercise of democracy, the right to vote:

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.

As we grow up, we learn early on in school about the great American tradition of electing leaders to represent us. It makes a mockery of the notion that this nation is a great democracy when one party imposes - as the Times decries - "these restrictions to win an election [that] will embitter a generation of students in its first encounter with the machinery of democracy."

The voting age in the United States is 18. Not allowing citizens over that age to vote based on partisan electoral strategy isn't merely politics as usual; it is a mugging of democracy.