They want to vote? Unacceptable in the state where I live, a swing state in which gerrymandering and power plays make the legislature overwhelmingly Republican. I believe our state leaders, with some justification, fear the younger crowd will vote for the opposition.
How should the legislature and governor’s office deal with this threat of independent thinking higher education seekers?
The answer is simple, employ the method that has worked so well for so long: voter suppression.
It started with the suggestion prior to the 2018 election to allow early voting on our state’s college and university campuses. Who could be opposed to that?
Well, the Republican party. In fact, the Secretary of State, in charge of elections in my state, forbade it. Only a lawsuit changed that directive and permitted early voting on several campuses, a victory for democracy that was utilized by 80,000 students.
But the important election of 2020 looms, and the fears return. In the last hours of the last day of the recent legislative session, our sneaky and cowardly legislators inserted an amendment to a bill that said every polling place must have sufficient non-permitted parking.
Now who do you suppose that is aimed at? Parking problems on most campuses are rampant and permits often are required. The bill clearly is aimed at making voting difficult if not impossible for college students.
Despite the fact that voting is a way to engage the next generation in the democratic process.
Despite the fact that many students don’t have cars and therefore can’t drive themselves to other sites.
Despite the fact most students work hard and don’t have the time or money to employ public or other transportation.
Despite the fact that few if any from off campus would choose to vote on campus when their local sites are probably much closer.
Despite the fact several of the regular early voting sites, the ones people actually drive to, have only very limited parking.
What were our legislators who drafted the bill and our governor who signed it thinking? It’s clear, isn’t it? Keep as many of those young minds as possible from being used to affect our political situation.
Once again there’s a lawsuit in the works and hopefully this bill also will be declared unconstitutional.
But there’s another solution. The colleges and universities could, if they wished, during the relatively short early voting period, reserve several spaces for voters, making sure that they are not sucked up by students desperately trying to find a spot for their cars. There wouldn’t need to be many, because no one is going to drive to those locations!
I have faith that the colleges and universities will try to work out a solution. Because, unlike our legislators, they favor increased student participation in the electoral process.