Editor’s note: The following editorial was unanimously approved by the editorial board.
Gov. Pat McCrory and many North Carolina Republicans won’t be making many college-aged friends any time soon.
McCrory approved new voting restrictions earlier this month that will eliminate the use of state-issued school IDs as acceptable voting identification. Aside from that, the Republican majority of the Watauga County Board of Elections plans to condense the three voting precincts that previously made up the Town of Boone into one precinct, according to WRAL. The voting for that district will move from areas convenient to Appalachian State University’s campus to a location that is farther away.
The new polling place will be the voting location for just short of 10,000 Watauga residents. For perspective, there are fewer than 40 parking spaces, according to WRAL.
Of course, jamming all of the voters into one polling place is a small price for these Republicans to pay in order to suppress the Appalachian vote.
Watauga County was almost an even split between President Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney in the 2012 elections, according to U.S. Election Atlas. However, voting numbers indicate that in the precinct on campus, the majority of votes were in favor of Obama, who gained nearly twice as many votes as Romney. Anyone from Watauga County could vote during the early voting period on campus
Combining the three precincts is only one way that state Republicans are working to harm the student vote. Voters are now required to have specific forms of government-issued IDs. Efforts by Democratic lawmakers to allow school IDs to be acceptable were blocked by Republican lawmakers.
Should Appalachian IDs not be acceptable forms of identification for students at the polls? They are, after all, state-issued IDs.
McCrory said during a radio appearance that the changes were about fairness, according to WRAL. He also claimed that Democrats had manipulated polling locations and early voting hours for partisan gain.
This issue, however, goes far beyond party lines. It becomes a case of what our rights are as young adults and as Americans. We may be young and, largely, a group of typically progressive thinkers, but it does not mean our voice in how our government operates should be affected.
And as it turns out, according to the Fair Elections Legal Network website, the Supreme Court ruled in the 1979 case Symm v. United States that college students have the right to vote in the community in which their school is located.
But with the newest changes in our area, it seems as though our right to vote is coming under fire. We are entitled to have our voices heard by our government without restraints.
We are students of Appalachian and you will hear us loud and clear when we say that we refuse to stand for this breach on our right to vote.