In light of all the Supreme Court Voting Rights Act controversy, I cam across an article from April about the absurd news that there was actually a proposal in the North Carolina state senate trying to tax parents of students who change registration. My jaw dropped! If it could it would have slammed into the floor.
Voter turnout in the US is low enough as it is, having one of the highest apathy and discontentment rates out of the democracies in the world. And now instead of having a Get Out the Vote movement and efforts North Carolina is actively trying to dissuade people from exercising their right to vote by basically limiting the 26th Amendment of the Constitution. This is preposterous!
Many colleges nationwide have student-driven voter registration drives annually. Inspired by their peers, voting becomes easy and exciting. But this potential NC law would put a burden on students and they would hesitate to register and maybe even to vote.
The proposed NC law says that if a voter is being claimed by their parents as a dependent for tax purposes, they must vote at their registered “home address.” If they do not, then parents cannot claim their child as a dependent for state income tax reasons. Many parents rely on the tax exemptions they receive by claiming their children as dependents. These students return home to their parents for school breaks and summer vacation, although the entire rest of the year, their college campus is essentially their home in almost every aspect. At their college home they sleep, shower, eat meals, have a job on or off campus, do their homework, relax, rely on a support system, and the local community, do volunteer work, and call it their home.
The proposed bill also “…would require college students who change their registration to register their vehicle at the new address within 60 days and begin paying local property tax.” It also appears that proponents of this bill have tried to place limitations and even eliminate early voting periods and same-day voter registration laws. This year I saw vast lines for the early voting days. They seem effective to mean and very useful for all of those people who waited as if they were going to see their favorite band’s concert.
Where a student votes should not affect their parents or their taxes. Many of them barely make $3000 a year and are struggling to pay for college and other costs. Students and those parents that can help with tuition have an incredibly hard time paying, further fueling the student loan epidemic. Why is the local government trying to make it more difficult for these families to pay for their education and be active patriotic citizens? Families should not have to chose between their desire to be educated to have a better life to be productive happy citizens and their right to vote. The youth vote like any is important and restricting it leaves a criminal after-taste.
There is a saying among the political communities that “If you do not vote, you do not have a right to complain.” The saying is not serious, everyone always has a right to their opinion and to stand up freely and vocalize their opinion. However, the saying speaks to, if you wanted to have a say in who represents you, then why didn’t you speak up then, and utilize your right to its fullest. Registering to vote on campus, voting alongside their peers, and in their college’s community makes the political process more fun and meaningful to students. Also, many students cannot go home to vote because they cannot afford to. And if for whatever reason they did not fill out the absentee forms, then they cannot vote. This law seems to be a way to try to silence the rising young voters.
Proponents of this bill claim that it is a means of saving money. Bah! They are sucking money from people who do not have the money. These young Americans are paying to better educate themselves so that one day they can make a living and pay their taxes. Maybe if this money went right into a public need-based scholarship program, it would be more acceptable. But I have not read any statements saying how this extra money will be used. And the proponents had the gall to say that students were being to manipulated. Are you kidding me!? Students, even at 18 most definitely have a mind of their own, they are having active discussions – many of them in collegial settings, and they have access to all the same campaigning and media like any other person of voting age has access to. Even candidates in recent election cycles from both parties have visited and had their campaign bases reach out to educate, register voters, and recruit potential Get Out the Vote volunteers.
The first presidential I was allowed to vote in was 2008. I was 18, excited, already an activist, and this happened to also be one of the greatest turnout years for young voters between the ages of 18-29.
Like every year the election was in November, which meant that I was in college. I went to college in PA, and although I could have filled out an absentee ballot, I wanted to physically vote. Who could argue with that? I along with my peers am a young american who cared and cares about the present and future of my country. I wanted to actively participate. And I was happy to re-register in PA because I was allowed to register with my campus address. I even participated in voter registration drives to get my classmates and people in the community to register. Allowing students to register with their dorm addresses promotes democracy, free speech, reaching out to all generations of voting age to have a voice, and makes the process of voting easier. Yes, absentee voting is great. I have even participated in the process since. However, when you are 18, maybe are away from home for the first time, and are adjusting to college life, filling out the forms by the appropriate deadlines is probably not the top thing on your mind. We should be fostering young Americans’ civic duty and be inspiring a pride in voting. This is why organizations like Rock the Vote, Ourtime.org, and the National Youth Rights Association are so fantastic and pivotal.
Repeatedly it appears that the younger generations are the last to get picked in kickball. Although in comparison, it has been better in recent years, issues affecting young Americans tend to get ignored and undervalued, and during elections they are almost never or minimally reached out to. This is likely because they either can’t vote because they are to young or because they have not been turning out in large enough numbers compared to the older generations. As a result there was the chicken and the egg apathy conundrum that began resolving itself in 2008, which was one of the greatest voter turnouts since 1972, the first year the 26th amendment was put into action.
The chicken and the egg apathy conundrum is that politicians did not pay attention to the issues of young Americans because they did not participate in the political process and vote; and young Americans did not participate in the political process enough and vote because the politicians were not paying attention to them. But the chain began to brake. However, since 2008 the chain began to reform.
Unfortunately, slowly again, regardless of greater turnout and maintained activism through organizations, volunteering, and social media; young american issues were not only de-prioritized, as can be seen by the lack of/poor effort to reform student loan bills and aid education. Additionally and grossly counter-efforts have been made to basically disenfranchise the young voters by making voting difficult. It seems like the lawmakers are hoping young Americans will re-crawl back into their cave of apathy. BUT we are not going anywhere and will make sure our voice is still heard and bring transparency to these despicable laws.
What I do not get, is why would you want to restrict voting, when it i hard enough to get people to vote, and just when people were getting excited to vote again because they are more invested than ever in the issues? We should be making voting invigorating and facilitate it.