NC Senate bill may affect student-voter turnout

Joshua Farmer

A bill was filed in the North Carolina General Assembly on April 3 that would remove a tax credit for families who have children registered to vote outside of their home address.

According to SB 667, titled Equalize Voter Rights, parents could no longer claim children as dependents if the child does not register to vote at the address of the parent. The bill would also require voters to register at the same address as their vehicle registration.

Appalachian State University political science professor Ruth Strickland compared the bill to a poll tax, and said that she does not expect the bill to pass.

Strickland also said that she wasn’t sure the measure was constitutional. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in 1979, SYMM v. U.S., held that a college student has the right to vote where he or she attends college, Strickland said.

Town Council member Andy Ball said that with the discussion over voter IDs, there was an expectation of some “push back” from legislature, but he didn’t expect any bill this radical.

Ball said the bill would go pretty far to disenfranchise college students.

“It looks like now they are trying to restrict the franchise to people who tend to vote Democrat,” Ball said. “It is clear that college students are more of a liberal demographic and it would seem that the conservatives have the purse strings at the power in Raleigh.”

Ball said the voter ID requirement would hurt at-risk populations such as the homeless and senior citizens, who tend to need social and government services and people who tend to be more socially liberal.

Ball said that having three Appalachian students elected into local government offices has been a success in integrating the Appalachian community and the Boone community, in which student voting has played a big role.

Ball said Republicans have the votes to pass the bill and “the governor will certainly sign it.”

The only way to defeat the bill with little political opportunity is with public pressure. Ball is working on organizing a student’s day at the capital.

“After working with several ASU students in our Get-Out-the-Vote efforts, I know how intelligent, informed and invested they are in the policies of our state and our nation,” said Emily Bish, Get-Out-the-Vote chair for the Democratic Party of Watauga County.

Bish said she is extremely dismayed that legislature finds it acceptable to create barriers for student’s right to vote.

The proposed bills combined make it clear that the intent is to make it difficult for students to vote, Bish said.

“Not only will I be participating to fight against this bill, I want to encourage all students and their parents to do so as well,” Bish said. “Students, regardless of political persuasions, should stand up for their right to vote in the place where they reside.”

President of the College Republicans Caroline Hartman said the club wants all voters, including students, to be active in the political process.

“Senate bill 667 does not take away the student’s right to vote, it does, however, impact their decision about where to register,” she said.

Former President of the College Democrats Lia Poteet said the bill will “simultaneously discourage student voting and raise taxes” as well as undermine the rights upheld for students by the Supreme Court.

Story: STEPHANIE SANSOUCY, Senior News Reporter and JOSHUA FARMER, News Editor