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The Blue & Gray Press | May 25, 2018

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States Consider Bills to Restrict Voting Rights

By ALISON THOET

Next fall, out-of-state college students may face problems as they attempt to register to vote, according to a New York Times article.

Seven states have passed laws that require a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license or passport in order to vote, which not many students have, according to a New York Times article. These states include Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

There are 27 other states considering these voting laws, which have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting, according to a New York Times article.

According to a New York Times article, Republican lawmakers have openly acknowledged to trying to prevent students from voting in the 2012 election because students tend to be liberal.

“It’s part of an electoral strategy to restrict the voting rights of people who tend to vote Democratic,” said Zakaria Kronemer freshman class president and out of state student form Maryland.

The new voting restriction laws will affect more than five million Americans, according to a report from the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice.

More than ten percent of U.S. citizens do not have a government-issued ID, according to a Rolling Stone article. In addition, 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African Americans, constituencies that are traditionally Democratic, lack government-issued identification.

“I think it is ridiculous because we have been taught since grade school that everyone in America can vote and we have been waiting until we are 18 to vote and now it’s possibly being taken away,” said Kronemer.

Erica Gouse, College Republicans chair feels a different way. “These laws do not disenfranchise, rather they protect the citizens of the Commonwealth from unjust voting practices,” she said.

“Requiring proper identification to vote does not hinder a registered voter from practicing their civil duty, but keeps elections fair and safe from those who wish to manipulate them; an act that damages our electoral system, and weakens our democracy.”

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, “This wave of changes may sharply tilt the political terrain for the 2012 election.

Republicans explain their reasoning for the new laws by saying they are necessary to prevent voter fraud, according to a New York Times article.

However, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, “fraud by individual voters is both irrational and extremely rare” and that “raising the unsubstantiated specter of mass voter fraud suits a particular policy agenda.”

Kacie Couch, a freshman and geology major from Florida is a politically active student involved in the senate board at UMW.

“To purposely cut a significant portion of the demographic out of the equation by using this idea of voting fraud as a mask would be both anti-constitutional and anti-American,” said Couch.

William O’Brien, the speaker of the New Hampshire State House said to a Tea Party group previously that students tend to “vote their feelings” due to a lack of life experience and “voting as liberal, that’s what kids do.”