For many citizens who have just turned 18, the first opportunity to exercise their most fundamental right to vote is offered during their attendance at college. Traditionally a demographic that voted less than others, the youth vote was recently of interest because of the overwhelming turnout in the 2018 midterms: nearly “40.3 percent of 10 million students” in Texas exercised their right to vote, often for the first time. However, these millions of votes and others around the country are now at risk.
In Texas, rampant poll closures near colleges and universities prevented students from even casting their vote. In New Hampshire, strict voter ID laws require students to jump through hoops to obtain an appropriate form of ID to be able to vote. Leaders in charge of the voting process in these states claim that these measures are to prevent voter fraud i.e. a voter posing as another voter illegally to cast a vote. However, voter fraud cases are nearly unheard of in the entire country. So why are states such as Texas, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and North Carolina making it harder for students to vote?
Normally, voter participation for college students is abysmally low. During the 2014 midterm elections, only 19% of college students participated in the voting process. This number has since doubled to an impressive 40% during the 2018 midterms. Furthermore, a recent poll conducted by Harvard University in March 2019 showed that nearly “45 percent of college students ages 18-24 identified as Democrats, compared to 29 percent who called themselves independents and 24 percent Republicans.”
After learning that all the aforementioned states are under the control of a Republican legislature, it is clear of the government’s true intentions. By controlling the methods of voting, Republicans can control the number of people that can actually get to the ballot box.
This is worrying because it is essential that the first entry into the voting system as citizens is inclusive and easy. As a country, there should be more programs and more poll sites to encourage our youngest citizens who are finally of age to express their political voice. If these recent measures to limit voting are not reversed, we are in danger of discouraging all young voters from demonstrating their most basic civic right.
Wines, Michael. “The Student Vote Is Surging. So Are Efforts to Suppress It.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 24 Oct. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/10/24/us/voting-college-suppression.html.