The issue of whether students are legally entitled to vote where they attend college was definitively settled in 1979 when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that right in Symms vs. United States. The ruling not only made sense from a legal and Constitutional standpoint, it passed the test of fairness as well. A prior Supreme Court ruling had already struck down lengthy residential requirements for voting. By 1979, most states only required a town resident to live in the area for at least 30 days in order to register to vote there. (That is the case in North Carolina today.) Most students at college easily pass that residency test — and why should they be subjected to harsher residency requirements than someone not in college? They can’t, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Despite the fact that the law is crystal clear on this point, some NC lawmakers now want to block students from voting in their local college communities by punishing their parents if they do so. Senate Bill 666 would strip parents of their right to take a tax deduction for a child who registers to vote at a different address from their parents’ home address.
Not only does this proposed law violate federal regulations — it could create a costly legal battle that our state has no hope of winning should it ever be challenged in court.
Help protect the right of students to vote in their college communities and keep North Carolina from wasting taxpayer dollars on an unwinnable legal fight. Tell your state reps that Senate Bill 666 (which also weakens Early Voting and eliminates Same-Day Registration) is a bad idea all around.
The people of North Carolina clearly want Early Voting. In 2012, 2.5 million North Carolinians voted early. That’s more than half of all ballots cast. Plus polls indicate 78% of voters say they support Early Voting.
Early Voting is convenient – and people need that convenience given modern life and their busy schedules.
Early Voting prevents lines on Election Day. A shorter Early Voting period will mean longer lines at the voting booth on Election Day. People who must get back to work or who have childcare responsibilities will be forced to give up waiting and will lose their right to vote. People who are very old or physically frail will have difficulties waiting as well.
Early voting helps protect the right of all eligible voters to vote. Not everyone has a boss who lets them take off work to go vote on Election Day. Offering the opportunity to vote on weekends and more days and evenings makes it possible for all eligible voters to vote.
It won’t save money. In fact, the state Board of Elections says shortening early voting will end up costing taxpayers more money because NC will have to add more polling places and buy more voting machines in order to handle the heavier load of voters who will show up during the shortened voting period.
The bottom line:
Voting should be free, fair and accessible because the right to vote is the basis for our democracy. Reject proposals that make it harder for voters to vote.
Write or call your NC Senate and House reps today and tell them: North Carolina is not Florida! Vote NO to any bill that cuts Early Voting days or hours.
Senate Bill 666, the #BilloftheBeast, as it has become known, puts college student’s voting rights in jeopardy by imposing a modern day poll tax. Among the bill’s provisions is an extreme measure that would prevent parents from claiming their sons or daughters as dependents if those children registered to vote at their college town addresses. In other words, students exercising their right to vote on campus would lead to a tax hike on their parents!
ECU students speak before the Greenville City Council on May 9. Photo courtesy of Democracy NC.
Bill sponsor Rep. Bill Cook (R-Beaufort County) tried to justify the bill saying, “They live at home but they often will vote where they are going to school and their parents keep them on as a deduction, and also where they’re going to school and voting they don’t pay squat in taxes…they don’t have any skin in the game.”
Never mind that their parents are legally entitled to claim them as dependents if they provide the required amount of support… or that students do pay local taxes — sales, property, fees, etc… or that they are an integral part of their communities. Student hold jobs in college towns. Students buy things in college towns. They use town services. In many cases, students serve on town boards and commissions and students have even been elected to town councils.
In short, students are a part of their college town communities. And it was that reality that led students at four college campuses to approach their town councils to support their right to vote. Town councils in Asheville, Boone, Chapel Hill and Greenville responded by passing resolutions recently in support of students’ right to vote and participate in their local government.
The so-called “Voter Integrity Project” non-profit organization remains vocal in declaring voter fraud exists in NC — despite multiple instances of their findings being thoroughly discredited and exposed as false. But their last episode of releasing erroneous data was so egregious that THEY had to be the ones to admit their findings were faulty. After misleading the public and the press at a public Voter ID hearing held at the General Assembly (a meeting that the Voter Integrity Project attempted to dominate) they were forced to issue a public apology. As part of that apology, they promised to conduct a full audit to determine what went wrong and to release the results. That was a month ago.
We’re still waiting for this:
In an interview with MSNBC, NC House Speaker Thom Tillis recently admitted that the harsh photo Voter ID laws being proposed in North Carolina have little to do with combatting voter fraud. He said the primary reason for the measure is to restore “voter confidence,” not to address documented cases of actual fraud. However, though he purports to consider “voter confidence” a priority, Tillis did not discuss whether or not lawmakers intend to address the concerns of NC citizens who are not confident that all of their fellow citizens will be able to exercise their right to vote… or who are not confident that lawmakers truly want everyone eligible to cast a ballot… or who lack confidence that our electoral process is being administered fairly and in accordance with every citizen’s fundamental right to vote, rather than being manipulated for partisan purposes.
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE.
Don’t miss this video of Michael Turzai, House Majority Leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, explaining how one political party can use Voter ID laws to gain a partisan advantage at the ballot box. As you will see, the motive for Voter ID has nothing to do with voter fraud and everything to do with voter turn-out:
“It was a nightmare.”
Those were the words of a Florida elections official when asked by NC lawmakers whether or not his state’s curtailing of early voting hours during the 2012 election led to long lines on Election Day. Yes, Ion Sancho, supervisor of elections in Leon County, Fla., explained. Cutting early voting did indeed lead to those lines — and it was a nightmare for Florida’s voters and its election officials, one caught in the national spotlight for weeks.
What triggered the problems? Florida cut back early voting from 14 days to eight days in 2012. Lawmakers in the House and Senate have filed similiar bills that would curtail early voting in North Carolina. Please join us in urging lawmakers in our state not to go down that road. Let’s not turn North Carolina into Florida.