Student VotingPolitical apathy and subsequent low voter turnout of youth (18-29) is often cited as fact. Many decry their political disengagement and apparent laziness, but recent election cycles have presented a very different and much more troubling reason for why many youth do not vote.
Across the country, students reported that they were subjected to increased scrutiny, unequal treatment, and at times outright harassment when they attempted to register to vote or cast a ballot on Election Day. Such acts of voter intimidation and suppression are particularly distressing because most of the targeted individuals are registering to vote for the first time and are unfamiliar with election laws.
Despite the fact that every college student is entitled to register to vote at the residence he or she considers "home," including a campus residence, many college communities actively prevent college students from registering to vote where they attend school. Students around the country have faced difficulty registering to vote because of local officials. In the case of historically African-American Prairie View A&M in Texas, the District Attorney publicly stated that if students attempted to register to vote they would be prosecuted for voter fraud.
Common tactics used to dissuade students from registering to vote include:
- Misinformation - telling college students they cannot register where they attend school or that if they register to vote at school they could be in jeopardy of losing financial aid, or that they are only able to vote where their parents pay taxes
- Residency requirement legislation - The New Hampshire legislature passed a law after the 2000 presidential election that required newly registered voters to register their car and obtain a New Hampshire driver's license within 60 days or face criminal prosecution
Although students are not traditionally considered a targeted demographic for voter suppression, it is clear that they, too, face many hurdles when attempting to register and vote.