Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Impeccable Logic: Candidates That College Students Don't Vote For Don't Want College Students To Vote

Citizens of Elizabeth City, NC, in Pasquotank County are back in the news for the suppression of college voters -- or at least for the advocacy of suppressing college voters at Elizabeth City State University.

Taking the lead in talking trash about college-age voters in Elizabeth City was a two-time loser in Elizabeth City town elections, Lena Hill-Lawrence, who according to the Elizabeth City Advance has a pronounced "inability to connect with student voters."

Student voters in Elizabeth City have become a local force, as is their right under the U.S. Constitution, and the Pasquotank Board of Elections achieved its own local fame in 2013 when it tried to prevent an Elizabeth City college student from running for town office because he lived in a college dorm. The State Board of Elections slapped down that interpretation, and I believe that particular college student went on to win a seat on the town council.

At a recent civic meeting in Elizabeth City, Ms. Hill-Lawrence led a discussion about the need to bar local college students from voting in elections (especially, we assume, elections in which she's running). She was joined in her disdain by the NC House member who represents Pasquotank in the General Assembly, one Robert Steinberg, who was of course an enthusiastic supporter of the Omnibus Voter Suppression Act passed by him and his colleagues that will disallow college-issued photo I.D.s as acceptable identification to vote starting in 2016 (if a federal judge doesn't throw that requirement out).

Hill-Lawrence and Steinberg got to clucking in unison about the terrible influence that college students can have over local issues: they alleged that student voters don’t know who or what they’re voting for; students, through their votes, can have lasting impact on communities they may leave after only a few years; and students, because they aren’t familiar with the issues or candidates on the ballot, can be easily manipulated into voting for candidates or causes that “informed voters” would never support.

Yep. We've heard all that toxic condescension before, especially in Boone. The Supreme Court in 1979 heard it too, but the judges ruled nevertheless that college students have a constitutional right to vote where they go to school, and the senior Superior Court judge in Wake County last fall ruled that to collude in blocking that right was an unconstitutional infringement.

We've said it before: Instead of constantly trying to block young voters, candidates like Hill-Lawrence and Steinberg ought to be figuring a way to win their votes.


Dem12 said...

It's interesting to me that they trot out the same old tired arguments against student voting, but they never have a concrete proposal to address. So I'm asking: to all of you lurkers who think that ASU students shouldn't be allowed to vote in local elections: exactly how would you word such a restriction? You can't just say "ASU students aren't allowed to vote in Watauga elections" because there are a lot of ASU students who are FROM Watauga County. You can't say "If your address is a dorm, then you can't vote" for the same reason - there are many Watauga natives who live in the dorms. There is no way to codify the idea of a permanent address, because NO address is really permanent. Many students come here and live for 4 years. If a 35-year-old man was transferred here for a job and only remained here 1 year, he would be allowed to register and vote, right? How then can we prevent students who are here for 4 years from voting?

Anonymous said...

Dem12 - You can't word such a restriction and have it sound reasonable. That's why you see across the country - state legislatures and local Board's of Elections making up rules and legislation that makes it more difficult. They don't enact these rules because they don't believe everyone has a right to vote. They enact them to diminish turnout of groups of people that don't benefit their political party's candidate.

I'm a Republican running for the NC House seat in the Watauga and Ashe County district against Jonathan Jordan in March. I understand students on average vote for Democrats more often than Republicans. My job is to give the students a reason to vote for me, not put up obstacles to make it hard to vote at all.

Lew Hendricks