Disenfranchising Young Voters …

The percentage of college students who cast votes in 2018 was more than double that of 2014, the last mid-term election prior to 2018.  Why?  Two major reasons:  school shootings and the environment.  The February 2018 shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, was a turning point for young people around the nation.  They were tired of seeing their friends die needlessly because of reckless, largely unregulated gun laws, or rather lack of laws.  A few activists from Parkland took the lead and motivated many more.

And then came a young girl in Sweden, Greta Thunberg, and she gained a voice that would be heard ‘round the world, and what she said with that voice was that we, the adults around the globe, have done a lousy job taking care of our planet, and that we have jeopardized hers and other young people’s futures and … she wasn’t going to take it lying down!  And her voice carried, touching the hearts and minds of young people in every nation, including the U.S.

Because of these two things, young people today are far more invested in the political process, far more aware of what is being done, who will do things to improve the situation, and they are, most importantly, voting in numbers never seen before among their age group.  My hat is off to all those who are using their voice and their vote to do what we oldsters should have been doing for decades now.  But …

Not everybody is pleased by this new wave of political enthusiasm among the youth of the country. Young people, concerned about the proliferation of guns and the destruction of the environment, are typically more likely to vote for a democratic candidate, which has thrown the Republican Party into a tailspin and led them to find new ways to disenfranchise the young voters.

The Texas Legislature has outlawed polling places that do not stay open for the entire 12-day early-voting period.  Many college campuses set up temporary early-voting sites for the convenience of the students.  However, they have neither the funding nor the need to keep those sites open for the entire 12 days, and therefore will not be allowed to have them this year.  Many students who live in campus housing do not have their own transportation and may well find it difficult to get to the polls in order to vote.  In Texas, this will affect nine of the eleven campuses of Austin Community College, as well as six campus polling places at colleges in Fort Worth, two in Brownsville, on the Mexico border, and other polling places at schools statewide.

It isn’t only Texas … Republican politicians around the country are throwing up roadblocks between students and voting booths.  In New Hampshire, a Republican-backed law took effect this fall requiring newly registered voters who drive to establish “domicile” in the state by securing New Hampshire driver’s licenses and auto registrations, which can cost hundreds of dollars annually.  Six in 10 New Hampshire college students come from outside the state, a rate among the nation’s highest. As early as 2011, the state’s Republican House speaker at the time, William O’Brien, promised to clamp down on unrestricted voting by students, calling them “kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience.”  Say WHAT???

Florida’s State Legislature reinstated a 2014 law that the Courts struck down at the time, outlawing early voting sites at state universities, with an additional caveat that all early voting sites must offer “sufficient non-permitted parking” – something that is in short supply at most universities.

North Carolina Republicans enacted a voter ID law last year that recognized student identification cards as valid — but its requirements proved so cumbersome that major state universities were unable to comply. A later revision relaxed the rules, but much confusion remains, and fewer than half the state’s 180-plus accredited schools have sought to certify their IDs for voting.

Wisconsin Republicans also have imposed tough restrictions on using student IDs for voting purposes. The state requires poll workers to check signatures only on student IDs, although some schools issuing modern IDs that serve as debit cards and dorm room keys have removed signatures, which they consider a security risk.  The law also requires that IDs used for voting expire within two years, while most college ID cards have four-year expiration dates. And even students with acceptable IDs must show proof of enrollment before being allowed to vote.

Tennessee does not recognize student ID cards as valid for voting, and legislators have removed out-of-state driver’s licenses from the list of valid identifications.  Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout among the states and the District of Columbia. Only Texas’ turnout is worse.

In almost all of these cases, the excuse given for the tougher restrictions is that they are trying to cut down on voter fraud, but that argument lacks teeth, since widescale voter fraud has been proven to be virtually non-existent.  It is simple common sense that making voting convenient improves turnout.  When polling places are closed, hours restricted, photo IDs required, turnout will suffer.  What a message we are sending to our youth when we make it so hard for them to vote that many will throw their hands up in frustration and become lifelong non-voters!

One final thought.  The states where the barriers are rising fastest are in political battlegrounds and places like Texas where one-party control is eroding.  My thought is that if the Republicans have, as they claim to, the best ideas, the best platforms … then why do they need to cheat in order to win?

The young people in this country today are our hope for the future, for a future with clean air, potable water, arable land for growing food, and fewer guns in the hands of the wrong people.  If we discourage them today, what is the message we are sending?  Think about it.

42 thoughts on “Disenfranchising Young Voters …

    • They will and they have. The foundation of our government has a deep fissure that is likely to split open in the coming 12 months. Are the republicans responsible? Mostly, but not solely. Sigh.

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  1. I really don’t know how you can call your government a democracy if every person who wants to vote and is capable of doing cab be restricted from voting in any way. You live in a –hold that thought — faux democracy. What could be more up Trump’s alley?
    Conservatives cheat every which way they can. Even when they are assured a majority (Alberta, 2019) they cheated. How many election rules they broke has still not been determined. Right from their party-leadership vote they cheated, and they continued on through the general election. They lied (of course) and double or triple voted, voters who did not vote somehow had ballots cast in their name, I don’t know what all else. But they say they won the election, it does not matter how they did it.
    The election should have been thrown out, but it has not been.
    Politics is just a game, and not even a serious one. Win at all costs! Who cares if it isn’t democratic!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Actually, I don’t call what now passes for a government a democracy. A plutocracy, an oligarchy, even sometimes an autocracy, but the days when it even came close to being a democracy are long since gone. Technically, we never had a democracy, but until recently it came closer than it does now. I think that we can never go back … never return to the time when people counted. ‘Twas an era, but ’tis no more. Sigh.

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  2. Students all across the country should start organizing and protesting these absurd mickey mouse laws which is tantamount to voter suppression. Well we all expect these shenanigans coming from the Repugs, but why isn’t the Democratic Party making a bigger stink about this?! The DNC should focus on this issue, also gerrymandering, and reign in non-citizen voting.
    I really hope the Democratic nominee would take concerns of young voters seriously, this could be the difference between winning and losing in 2020. It will be close so every vote counts!!!
    My only concern is HRC jumping in the fray as a last minute dark horse, that would be a horrible mistake, essentially handing the election over to Trump… again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great piece Jill. Please tell me one thing…Why in the hell would anyone ever vote for a Republican? Dems aren’t perfect by any means. But this goes right the heart of our democracy. We should be enhancing ways to vote, not reducing them. You’re so right, if their ideas are so great, why aren’t they trying to make it easier to vote? You and I both know the answer. Soon, maybe they’ll go away like the Whig Party in the 1840s and 50s. Because right now, they’re completely unrecognizable.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks Jeff! Today, I can see no reason why anyone would vote for a republican. I have done so in the past, when I truly felt a republican was the better option. But now? They have sold their souls downriver and no, I would not vote for one today. They are scared to have everyone vote, scared of what would happen if every minority, every young person could easily vote, for they have nothing to offer the majority of us. They have sold a snowjob to the ignorant masses, and have been bought — lock, stock and barrel — by the wealthy. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, they refuse to reinvent themselves. The $$$$ from The Koch’s and their ilk is too intoxicating. Until they start to moderate, and at least attempt to talk to those who have the least among us, they’ll continue to go down the road to ruin. I don’t see it happening. A complete bloodbath at the ballot box in 2020? Hell, even if that happens, they’ll probably double and triple down on the same racist division tactics that got them where they are today. They reap what they sow Jill.

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        • I strongly suspect that many in the GOP are regretting the day they first heard the name “Donald Trump”, for they have literally had to forego whatever values and ethics they once had to defend the indefensible, and the GOP will not come out of this smelling like a rose. Speaking of 2020 … the republicans have backed themselves into quite a mess, and there’s no way they can win … UNLESS … they cheat. That, I am certain, is exactly what they will do, and in fact they are already doing so. We can win a fair & honest election, but maybe not one where the deck is stacked.

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          • It’s what they’re good at Jill. Because they aren’t good at anything else, especially governing. They should be ashamed. But, they aren’t of course because they think nothing they’re doing is wrong. No low is too low for these people

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  4. I’m so sorry that you guys in the States left election regulations largely in the hands of elected officials who can easily be corrupted by big campaign donors. Here in Canada, we have a government agency called Elections Canada. They are mandated by Parliament to administer election laws passed by Parliament. They redraw electoral maps when necessary – to be approved by Parliament. They run the election machinery and oversee the process in every Canadian riding. The setup in the provinces and three territories is similar to the federal level. For example, Elections Ontario runs elections in my province. We do not allow politicians to redraw election boundaries. Clearly, neither should you. I feel badly that the American people are so poorly served by their federal and state politicians.

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    • Very well stated John, clearly as most everyone in the world can see, our politicians who represent us on the local and federal level has sold us down the river a long time ago. I’ve heard from my grandma that civics was a mandatory subject in high school back in the day. I find it interesting that the US public education (indoctrination) system eliminated this class in the early 80’s when my mother attended, I can attest I’ve never seen it in the standard curriculum.
      I do admire the Canadian ppl holding their elected officials accountable, to provide fair and equitable election for all. Campaign finance laws in the states should have been amended in the Constitution a long time ago. Special interest and corporate donors must be strictly regulated b/c it’s pure corruption and anti democratic, it goes against the will of the ppl. Of course it doesn’t help that many in our country are apathetic, ignorant of the issues and power structures which govern our republic. Often times naive citizens are manipulated into voting for a candidate that’s against our own best interest! Case in point…. Trump.
      Now we all know the reason Trump became our “accidental president” is b/c Hillary Clinton colluded with Republican big-wigs to promote Trump as an easy mark so she would easily defeat him. Who would have known that Trump was such a good conman, duped half the nation into voting for him, despite all his obvious abhorrent flaws, lack of moral and ethics, is a flaming bigot and moron etc etc.
      We haven’t been a real democracy for a very long time. I’ve been re-reading George Washington’s Farewell Address in 1796, setting the foundation for a stable, fair, self regulating gov’t for the ppl by the ppl. My how we’re strayed from that noble vision!
      Here’s a good article from the Smithsonian website to help us as a nation strive for those original ideals laid out by our founding fathers:
      https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/the-real-birth-of-american-democracy-83232825/

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  5. Jill, the voter ID laws are cookie cutter language from ALEC, a conservative planning and advocacy group. Living in NC, the voter ID law passed a few years ago was ruled unconstitutional. It is more than about ID. The laws have surgical discrimination to make it harder for young people, Black people and old people to vote. They are Jim Crow-like.

    As an independent voter, my thesis is if Republicans must resort to restricting votes of opposition, what message does that send? Both sides have gerry mandered and participated in Jim Crow voting suppression. But, in 2019, I was hopeful that this kind of blatant discrimination would be behind us and party leaders would at least have a sense of shame.

    It should be noted, some employers have been leaving ALEC due to its blatant gamesmanship, Keith

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I feel a plausible solution would be for universities and colleges to advise, with signage or brochure, absentee and early absentee voting. It can be done online through the proper county or parish a student is from; and if young people are good at one thing, it is computer savvy. They could also provide printed forms when necessary.

    Liked by 2 people

    • That is a plausible solution … in states that allow early absentee voting. Sadly, only 27 states allow “no excuse absentee” voting. This is one thing that should become nationwide, but is unlikely to do so under republican rule. Sigh.

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  7. It’s a bit of short-termism, I’d you ask me. If these people remember who disenfranchised them, that’s going to do no good to those who did the disenfranchising. Of course, some of these politicians are hoping that these young adults will forget.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Definitely so! It is short-sighted, AND the politicos are hoping that as these young people move into the world, they will forget and they will become mired in the corporate world such that their goals and views will change. Also … there seems to be a mentality in our government of “live for today and to hell with tomorrow”, in other words, no longer will it be their problem at some point. This is the only explanation I can come up with for those who continue to promote and deregulate the fossil fuel and logging industries, despite the evidence that we are destroying our planet by doing so. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s the same here. Johnson is so keen on a late December election because it’s after the Universities have broken up. Often the students are enrolled in an area but will have moved back home on Election Day. Makes it’s harder for them to vote. Plus the Tories are pushing for the requirement to have voters carry photo I’d even though the instances of voter fraud is minuscule. Why. Research indicate it will adversely impact on voter turnout for their opponents.

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    • I’ve concluded that Donnie & Boris are somehow related … cousins or something. They are the evil duo and frankly I’d like to drown them both in a vat of hot oil. Sigh. Yes, my mood is foul … I hear that Parliament finally agreed to the December election. It seems that the citizens of our nations no longer matter much, and it is those ‘other interests’ that will shape the future of both countries. I’m done … I’m going in search of a small deserted isle with only a few wild critters to keep me company … no phone, no internet, no news of the Boris & Donnie Show! Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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