Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Mock the Vote
According to Rolling Stone this week, college students are being turned away from voter registration because they MUST register in the state in which they have permanent residence, not where they live. In other words, 18-22 year olds need to register to vote in the state where mommy and daddy live... how many students are going to put forth that much effort to vote? Not many, that's for sure. Which sucks cause college kids tend to vote democrat... what a shitty policy... BUT... turns out it's not even true... in fact it's illegal.

But at the election office, a county official told Han that only "permanent residents" may register to vote. College students, she informed the clean-cut twenty-year-old, must vote where their parents live. "This is just how we've always done it," county election commissioner Patricia DiSpirito told Rolling Stone. "A dorm is not a permanent residence -- it just isn't."

In fact, DiSpirito is flat-out wrong. Federal and state courts have clearly established that students have the right to vote where they go to school, even if they live in a dorm. But interviews with college students, civil-rights attorneys, political strategists and legal experts reveal that election officials all over the country are erecting illegal barriers to keep young voters from casting ballots...

In many cases, however, there's more than ignorance at work. In small college towns, students often outnumber all other voters combined -- raising fears that they could determine the outcome of local elections. The colonial town of Williamsburg, Virginia, has only 6,000 registered voters -- and 7,600 students at the College of William and Mary. In January, when campus leaders began pushing students to register and vote, the city responded by requiring every student to fill out a two-page questionnaire detailing everything from their personal finances to where their car is registered. Of an estimated 150 students who completed questionnaires, only four have been registered. "They don't want students involved," says Rob Forrest, who quit school and moved off campus so he could run for a seat on the city council. "It's a cop-out to interpret the law like this -- and if the law says that we're not supposed to get involved, then the law is wrong."

There's no way to tell how many college students are being turned away by local election boards -- but observers say it could be enough to re-elect George Bush this fall. Voters under the age of twenty-four favored the Democrats by at least twenty percentage points in each of the past three presidential elections, and polls this year indicate that they favor John Kerry by as many as ten points. If the race is as close as last time, keeping turnout down among voters at one major college campus in each battleground state could tip the election to the Republicans.