Opinion: Young, passionate and worthy of voting

Kyle McDonald

Kyle McDonald

Kyle McDonald is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

As college kids, we are too young and inexperienced to vote. We shouldn’t even be able to vote in our college town unless our parents have a permanent residency there. When we vote, we vote with our feelings.

Those statements reflect the beliefs of some lawmakers in New Hampshire and Wisconsin, who are working to pass legislation that will directly affect the voting abilities of college students and minorities in those states. William O’Brien, New Hampshire House Speaker, went as far as to say that we don’t have life-experience and are basically doing what he did as a kid, “which is voting as a liberal.”

One bill in New Hampshire would prevent young voters from voting in a district unless their parents have a permanent residency there, which would force students to vote out of a state where they may have lived for a few years. Another would completely disallow same-day voter registration. A photo-ID bill is working its way through the Wisconsin house that would prevent students from using student IDs at the voting booth.

These laws, if passed, would prove very effective in limiting Democratic votes and do little to hinder Republican votes. Young people and minorities account for a large chunk of the Democratic vote. If a few hurdles are placed in front of these voters, not as many will turn out, giving the GOP candidates an edge in these states.

These proposed laws are unconstitutional. A photo-ID bill, such as the one being pushed in Wisconsin, and one that could surface in North Carolina, would strip away voting eligibility from hundreds of thousands of voters. As the Washington Post points out, a ruling on a similar law in Georgia found that law unconstitutional because “people lacking IDs would have to pay for cards themselves — creating, in effect, a poll tax.” The Post’s article says the Georgia ruling found that states requiring voter IDs must be willing to pay for them. A law in Texas was struck down in 1978 for requiring voting college students to demonstrate that they intended to live in the jurisdiction for a year after graduation.

To be clear, this is not happening in Ohio. However, as young voters, we must be aware of these types of attacks on our rights. We make up a significant portion of the population and can make or break an election, as seen in 2008. Our votes need to be counted, regardless of how naïve the GOP thinks they are. I’ve spent the majority of the past five years living in Kent. I’ve worked in Kent and paid taxes to Kent. Somebody try and tell me I can’t vote in Kent if I want to.