Why Don’t Students Vote? Because We Don’t Want Them To

3/20/2017

Strict voter ID laws have been on the rise in recent years, with many drawing comparisons to the Jim Crow South. In 2016, seven states required photo identification, compared to only four in 2012. In the midst of these voter ID laws, college students in particular face many challenges getting to the polls. Some states, such as Tennessee, have explicitly excluded student IDs as forms of identification, while other states do not accept out-of-state driver’s licenses.

Voter registration further complicates the process for some students. As a first-time voter, some students may be misled by myths about voter registration (such as concerns of financial aid eligibility). Additionally, many students are often unaware if they are eligible to vote under a school address. Many states, such as Wisconsin, have made this even more difficult by disallowing students to use university-provided housing lists to verify their residency. With these registration obstacles in the way, students may be discouraged by the process and never vote at all, especially those students who are relocating from another state. ...

Rather than dwell in these challenges, it’s time that we – students, educators, university administration – fight for students’ rights to vote. You want students to have a voice? It’s time you do something about it. Does your institution have a polling site on campus? If not, you might take a lesson from the University of Virginia, where several student groups worked with the university’s transportation services in order to provide shuttles to and from the polls.