Partner Spotlight: Student Voting Update from FELN’s Campus Vote Project
Posted by Josh Spaulding
The Fair Elections Legal Network’s Campus Vote Project is excited to launch its new weekly update that focuses on news across the country related to students’ ability to vote. Young people are constantly underrepresented when it comes to voting. While many attribute the low turnout to apathy, specific barriers to the ballot disproportionately affect young people generally and students specifically.
Students, in particular, face additional obstacles to voting as they move to a new community for school. These challenges include not knowing voter registration rules and deadlines, not having acceptable ID for voter registration or voting purposes, confusion about where to vote, lack of transportation to the polls, and occasionally are confronted by unfriendly or unsympathetic elections officials or poll workers.
There are several ways for students, administrators, and election officials to help get students the information they need to register and vote. This weekly update will highlight what is being done on campuses and in the states to get students the information to participate and make voting more accessible as well as legislation that is specifically targeted to limit students’ access to the ballot. These are just a few examples from the past month. Please let us know of any recent on campuses or in the states that will impact students’ access to the ballot. Send your email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view non-student specific legislation that will impact access to voting, please visit FELN biweekly update on voter suppression legislation.
If you are interested in joining the new campaign FELN launched, Campus Vote Project, to help get students to the polls, please sign up at www.campusvoteproject.org.
In the recent Presidential primary in Georgia, turnout among young voters was only 5%. A local TV station asked students at Albany State University why they didn’t vote. The students responded that they were unaware of the primary election date or that they were registered in their hometown.
Students at Ball State University made their case before the Delaware County Election Board for an early satellite voting site on the Ball State campus. Currently, the campus is split into four different precincts with most of the polling locations over a mile from campus. Ball State President Joann Gora was supportive of the idea in 2008, the last time students tried to get a satellite voting site on campus.
The University of Miami, Miami-Dade Community College, and Florida International University have partnered with Turbovote, an online tool to help students vote. In the next few months, students will be able to start the voter registration process as well as apply for an absentee ballot through Turbovote. Students will be mailed ballots and will receive email and text message remainders as the election nears to either vote the absentee ballot or show up to vote in person on Election Day. FELN provides strategic advice and legal analysis for Turbovote.
Although the Maryland General Assembly will not consider new legislation this year, the Student Government Association at the University of Maryland voted 20-0 to call on the legislature to introduce and pass same-day registration in a future legislative session. They noted that states with same-day registration saw an increase in student voters, including an analysis by the California Institute of Technology showing that same-day registration increased turnout of young adults (18-25 year olds) by 9.1 percent.
As lawmakers try to move through a bill in the Minnesota legislature that will put on the November ballot a constitutional amendment requiring a photo ID to vote, the League of Women Voters Minnesota produced a video showing how the law will effect voters – especially students. Among them is a graduate student who has, like many other students, moved 12 times in the past 6 years for internships, work, and when the school year ends. The proposed amendment will add a new barrier to voting for students in a state that has traditionally seen higher levels of student voting because of Election Day registration.
The House passed legislation two weeks ago that would require a person’s voting address be their residence for all other legal purposes, impacting hundreds of laws and statutes that contain the words residency and domicile. For instance, a person would be required to change their drivers’ license and vehicle registration if it did not match the address they use for voter registration. The bill will likely prevent out of state college students from voting in New Hampshire unless they change their legal residence from their home state to New Hampshire. The bill heads to the Senate.
The upcoming vote on a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage in North Carolina has activated students on the Duke University campus to make voting more convenient for students ahead of the spring election. The Duke Student Government got a one-stop early voting site on campus – allowing students to both register and cast a ballot at the same time.
Warren G. Harding High School took a group of students who will be 18 by the November general election to vote in Ohio’s primary election on Wednesday. Dozens more students from Warren City Schools are expected also be bused to vote in the primary.
The Pennsylvania Senate passed a voter photo ID law that allows for student IDs from a Pennsylvania college or university to be acceptable ID if the student ID contains a photo, the student’s name, and an expiration date proving that it is still valid. The bill moves back to the House for agreement and then to Governor Tom Corbett to sign. Governor Corbett has said he is in favor of requiring photo IDs to vote.
The Black Student Alliance at San Antonio College in Texas recently conducted a voter registration drive to educate students on the importance of voting. They were able to register 90 students and plan to hold two more voter registration drives before the November election.
Vermont voters passed a constitutional amendment in 2010 that now allows 17 year olds that will be 18 by the general election to vote in the upcoming presidential and August primary.
SB 1 passed the Senate on February 6 with a 20-20 vote with the lieutenant governor casting the tie-breaking vote. SB 1 allows an ID card from any 4 year school of higher education in Virginia – including private schools – to serve as voting ID. Those who cannot provide an ID will no longer be able to sign a sworn statement of identity to vote by regular ballot and will instead have to vote by provisional ballot and show required ID later. The House concurred and the bill has been sent to Governor Bob McDonnell.
For the primary this past week, Liberty University was able to get a polling location on campus for students to vote. Previously, students had to take a bus to the polling location. Close to 600 people voted on at the polling place on campus.
Wisconsin’s photo ID law was temporarily suspended pending trial over a lawsuit over the new law. Last’s month primary election required photo ID – which also allowed student ID’s – but as of now are not required to show a photo ID in the upcoming primary election because of the injunction. The new law that has been suspended only allows student IDs to serve as IDs if they have a photo, name, signature, date of issuance, and a 2-year expiration date. Students also must bring a letter from their school indicating that they are currently enrolled to be able to use a student ID. One student writes about the complications she encountered trying to vote under the new law, including printing the enrollment verification form.
The Wisconsin Senate passed a bill that would no longer require that voter registration to be offered to students in high school. It now heads to the Wisconsin Assembly.
The University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire is issuing voter IDs to students that do not have acceptable forms of identification to vote but are charging students $2 to obtain one. The Chippewa Valley Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter to the school urging them to provide the IDs for free.
Whether or not technical school IDs are acceptable forms of identification is now in the hands of Gov. Scott Walker. He must approve the official policy written and approved by the Government Accountability Board that allows IDs issued by technical schools for voting.
Re-posted with permission from The Campus Vote Project Blog.