Student voting rights
This page is part of the Election Protection Wiki,
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Forms of student voter suppression
- 3 Reports of student voter suppression
- 4 Articles and resources
The Brennan Center for Justice states,
The Twenty-Sixth Amendment gives 18 to 21 year olds a voice in our democracy. Students who leave home to attend college should have the right to choose where they vote. In most states it is possible for students to make this choice, but the laws governing voting eligibility can be tricky, confusing, or downright restrictive. Students can be unfairly targeted by election officials or partisan challengers and often have trouble establishing residency where they live and attend school.
Forms of student voter suppression
Different sates have different rules for determining student voting rights. Some states welcome student voting, while others appear to want to restrict it. Indiana, for example, does not allow student IDs from private universities to be used as identification for purposes of voting.
Restrictive voter identification laws
States have varying voter identification laws. Some are very restrictive in ways that can keep students from voting. Indiana, for example, does not allow identification from private colleges
Restrictive interpretation of state laws
Some election officials send warnings to students that suggest they can get in trouble for registering to vote where they go to school. Others require students to fill out intimidating questionnaires.
Restrictive voter registration laws
Some states encourage people to vote with laws that allow registration and voting on the same day. Others make it more difficult. If states adopted same-day registration more people could and would vote.
Inadequate voting infrastructure
Some states and districts restrict campus polling places, making it difficult for students to vote.
Reports of student voter suppression
- Montana: The Montana Republican Party has challenged more than 3,000 registered voters living around the University of Montana.
- Colorado: On Sept. 24, 2008, it was reported that Republican El Paso County Recorder Robert Balink admitted to falsely informing Colorado College that out of state students could not register to vote in Colorado if they were claimed as dependents on their parents' tax returns. Balink's office had created a flier on student vote registration containing the false information and urged the college to post it around campus. Balink admitted the mistake after it was publicized by the county's Democratic Party.
- Virginia: September 30, 2008. The Washington Post reports that Old Dominion University students are being probed for voting eligibility: "This fall, students at Old Dominion University who registered to vote in their college town received questionnaires from the Norfolk elections board -- probing whether they were claimed as dependents on their parents' income-tax returns, whether they hold out-of-state driver's licenses, and where their cars were registered. A group of students, backed by the Barack Obama campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union, cried foul, viewing the questionnaire as an attempt to disqualify them from voting in Virginia."
Articles and resources
- Student Voting Rights, Brennan Center for Justice
- The structure and parts of this section are summarized from a article, Sujatha Jahagirdar, "Ensuring the Rights of College Students to Vote," Statement before the Committee on House Administration, New Voters Project.
- Bob Culp, "Montana Republicans challenge collegiate ballots," CBS News Youth Vote Blog, October 4, 2008.
- From Colorado: El Paso County Recorder sends misleading flyer to college president.
- Greg Gordon, "Election officials telling college students they can't vote," McClatchy Newspapers, September 24, 2008.
- Home Is Where Your Vote Is -- Sort Of Washington Post, September 30, 2008.
- Student Voting Rights, a guide to student voting rights in each state, with a map for selecting each state and a color-coded guide to restriction-level of the state's student-voting laws.
- New Voters Project from Student PIRG.
- "College Students Still Face Voting Stumbling Blocks," Time. Magazine, October 14, 2008.