College students have joined the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department in North Carolina courtroom proceedings to a challenge a state law that they believe violates the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age from 21 to 18.
Over the past decade, the rules that govern voters have tightened, namely the requirements for photo IDs, in the name of preventing fraud. Whether the reasoning for this is to make voting more difficult for those who are likely to vote Democratic is unknown, but it has made voting for students more of a challenge.
According to Marc Elias, the Democratic election lawyer bringing the age-discrimination claim, young voting has been a primary target of these ID requirements. As the Houston Chronicle reports, proposals to change voting rules have frequently affected younger voters, but none more so than college students.
Ohio legislators had proposed a law that would have cost colleges millions of dollars for helping out-of-state students vote locally. The measure was struck down following heavy criticism from state universities.
In Texas, a valid photo ID is required in order for a person to vote. Interestingly enough, however, a state handgun license qualifies, but a state university ID card does not.
A North Carolina law passed last year shortened the early voting period, as well as eliminated same-day registration. In addition to grievances about the new voting law, North Carolina college students have raised complaints over the closing of voting sites at Appalachian State University and Winston-Salem State University.
According to the legislation, beginning in 2016 voters will need to show photo identification and student ID cards will not be acceptable. In most instances, out-of-state driver’s license won’t be accepted either.
While in-state students with valid state identification will be largely unaffected by the new law, many out-of-state students are likely to report unknowingly to their local polls carrying out-of-state licenses or student ID cards.
According to Jeff Tarte, a Republican state senator and supporter of the voter ID law, says one possible reasoning for the legislation is preventing students from submitting absentee ballots in their home states and also voting in North Carolina, where their university is located.
Voters 30 years old and younger represent a massive voting population. Whether the intentions behind the ID law are intended to make young voting more difficult or not, refusing to recognize a university ID is disappointing nonetheless.