Forbes: Young People Are Fighting Back Against Voter ID Restrictions


As a student at Arizona State University, 24-year-old Rebecca Tindle wanted to vote in the community where she attended school. But when she tried, she was frustrated that she couldn’t use her student ID to vote and by the constant questioning she received when she tried to use her out-of-state ID. Under Arizona law, voters are allowed to use an out-of-state ID at the polls as long as they also show an additional form of ID that lists the address on their voter registration – but poll workers still pushed back on the authenticity of her ID. After more than two years, she’d had enough. There didn’t seem to be a path forward. The process was confusing and overwhelming, so Rebecca turned to VoteRiders. At VoteRiders – the nation’s leading voting rights organization focused on the issue of voter ID – we provide free ID help so that every eligible voter can cast a ballot that counts. When it comes to students like Rebecca, VoteRiders helps those who don’t have an accepted form of ID to get any and all documents they need to vote. By empowering students with up-to-date information and free ID help, we’re supporting new voters to cast a ballot with confidence.

Young people are fighting back against voter ID restrictions
Rebecca enjoying Arizona’s great outdoors. REBECCA TINDLE
More Americans live in a voter ID state than ever before, and the resulting challenges are heightened for young and student voters in particular. Of the 38 states with ID laws, 9 states do not accept any form of student ID. Many of the states that purport to accept student IDs actually severely restrict which student IDs they accept by adding additional onerous requirements such as requiring IDs to list students’ addresses or have expiration dates, or states only accept IDs from certain schools. This variety in state laws regarding student IDs adds a powerful barrier and additional layer of complexity to the voting process for young people, given that they often lack alternative forms of identification beyond their student IDs. 
Young people are fighting back against voter ID restrictions
VoteRiders content for Ohio Students. VOTERIDERS


Voter ID laws send a powerful and potentially discouraging message about whose voices politicians want to be heard at the polls. Take the case of Texas, where you can use your handgun license to vote, but not your student ID. Our Gen Z staffers in Texas recently spoke out about what they’re seeing and how they’re fighting back with boots on the ground in Houston.

As an organization that works with voters year-round, we’re always witnessing the harmful effects of ID laws on students. Beyond outright disenfranchisement, we’re seeing the confusion that these constantly shifting requirements create. The impact of this confusion cannot be overstated when we’re talking about students, most of whom are first-time voters and often require additional support to unpack complicated ID laws and make their voices heard. Take Georgia, where only students from public schools are allowed to use their student ID at the polls, blocking those who attend seven out of ten historically black colleges in the state.

Ahead of a high-stakes election in Ohio this fall, our team reported that rumors were flying. Students were hearing–incorrectly!—that getting the in-state ID required under Ohio’s new ID law would disqualify out-of-state students from receiving financial aid. Our teams across these states and more are working hard to combat this confusion and provide the free tools, resources, and knowledge for students to cast their ballots successfully and confidently – and to prepare for a lifetime of being a voter.Despite not having always done so, today’s young people are showing up to vote in increasing numbers and asserting their power at the polls. Last year’s midterm elections had the second highest turnout among voters under 30 in the past thirty years. By getting involved in the electoral process, raising their voices on the issues that matter most to them and educating their peers, young people are fighting back against voter ID restrictions. Despite attempts to restrict their access to the ballot, young voters are increasingly being drawn into action and are making a difference on the state of our democracy.

Young people are fighting back against voter ID restrictions
Students at the University of North Florida attend an on-campus session on voter ID laws hosted by VoteRiders. Photo courtesy of VoteRiders. VOTERIDERS

For our democracy to thrive and continue to do so for future generations, we need to be inviting new voters into the process, not shutting them out. In support of students, VoteRiders is fighting back by making sure young people have the ID information and documents they need to vote in every election. We see ourselves as an impartial ally — a channel through which students, no matter their political leanings, can find out what they need to successfully cast their ballots ahead of the upcoming elections. We are proud to be in partnership with hundreds of campus leaders and student voting organizations and were humbled to receive the 2022 Standout National Partner award from the All IN Campus Democracy Challenge earlier this year.

Armed with resources, expertise and support, we’re focused on providing students with everything they need. But our most powerful allies are the students themselves. They help VoteRiders to be part of the solution by organizing on-campus activations and volunteer events. These students also speak the language necessary to bring new voters and other students into the fold.

Every young person has the power to make a difference. It starts by asking questions, raising your voice, and getting help when you need it – like Rebecca, who is now able to cast a ballot with ease and share her story to ensure those around her can do the same. VoteRiders, alongside the next generation, is making headway, but we can’t accomplish the goal alone.

Young people are fighting back against voter ID restrictions
Students in Miami write letters to their peers alerting them to voter ID laws and upcoming elections. VOTERIDERS

To get involved with our work, be sure to share trusted voter ID information with your community, partner with us and bring ID help to your campus, or make a commitment to volunteer your time. You can also sign up for email updates or follow us on social media (@VoteRiders) to stay up-to-date and engaged.

A more inclusive and accessible democracy starts with us all, and we are proud to be standing alongside young people for their right to be heard.

More than 977 colleges and universities currently participate in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. Learn more about ALL IN and support our work here.

Young people are fighting back against voter ID restrictions
Lauren Kunis

Lauren Kunis is the CEO and Executive Director of VoteRiders. She has spent her career working to strengthen democracy at home and around the world, designing and managing impactful voter education, civic engagement, and government accountability programs. Lauren most recently worked at Nonprofit VOTE, where she was the National Voter Registration Day program director and led the holiday to a record-setting number of voter registrations in 2020. She previously worked at the nonpartisan National Democratic Institute and the World Bank on democracy and governance programs in over 15 countries in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Domestically, Lauren has worked on national political campaigns, served on the Steering Committee for the DC Paid Family Leave campaign, and worked as an NYC Urban Fellow in the Bloomberg administration. Lauren has a BA with honors in Government from Cornell University and an MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management from New York University. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband and their two young children

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