The times they are changin’, Mr. Dylan. They’re changing, indeed. I remember growing up in a time that now seems long ago, when the government actually encouraged people to vote. They had entire campaigns dedicated to it. They even got Jason Mraz to tell me to do it. That was back in the day. Back before the Republican party decided that it wanted to try and stop people from voting. And I’m not talking about the good old-fashioned “put the fewest number of voting booths in the most inaccessible part of town, to prevent all the minorities from voting” trick. I’m talking about the newest war on Americans that the GOP is fighting.
Almost every Republican-controlled state in the country is trying to stop college students, a historically liberal group, from casting their ballots. How? A whole number of fun things. Seven states already demand a state-issued photo ID to vote. While that seems fair (even though a New York University study showed that more than 11 percent of teen voters don’t have a government-issued photo ID), some of these saintly seven states, along with 27 more, are considering laws that prohibit the students from voting if their IDs are from out of state. Paying out-of-state tuition? Don’t count on voting in Maine. You’ll be tried for voters fraud. Want to vote early? Don’t go to Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee or West Virginia. Want to even register to vote? Well, you can’t do it on the general election day, or the same-day anymore in Maine, Florida or Ohio. Think you can just go to a registration drive? Not if you live in Illinois or Texas, both of which just drastically reduced registration drives. Think you can move to New Hampshire and vote? Nope! New legislation would prevent anyone who ever lived outside of the state (military included) from registering to vote. Ever.
So what does this mean? Well, it means that in 12 of the major battleground states in the 2012 election, at least five of them will have cut back voting rights. It means that more than five million people will have lost the right to vote. Five million. That’s more than the margin of victory in the 2000 and 2004 elections. It’s more than half the margin in 2008. It means that 19 laws, in 14 Republican-controlled states exist for the sole purpose of trying to stop liberals from ever reaching the voting booths. It means 63 percent of the electoral votes will come from states that will block Democratic voters. To me, it means that there are really terrible people in politics. It’s like Voldemort wrote these laws. They’re awful.
The Republicans can cry all they want about how this is preventing voter fraud (I’m talking to you, Secretary of State of Kansas), but this isn’t the 1950s, where entire cemeteries ended up voting. If you want to look at facts (something the GOP, clearly, has trouble with), there were only 221 instances of voter fraud in Kansas in the last 15 years, so, let’s not pretend like this is a real problem. The Speaker of the New Hampshire State House told a Tea Party group (preferably, over Earl Grey and cookies) that students vote liberal because they are “foolish” and “vote with their feelings … because they lack life experience.”
OK. Perhaps, this is true. However, why should this discount the millions of leftist student voters’ right to cast a ballot? Why does a supposed lack of wisdom translate to an inability to vote? If that was true, then why do the brainwashed, narrow-minded, soulless viewers of Fox News get to vote? I mean, if a blonde Republican had twice as many brain cells, they would still only be a Golden Retriever.
I say, rise up, fellow college students. I say, go to the voting booths. We know how wrong this all is. Yes, these are terrible and unjust laws, but these shouldn’t be looked at as reasons why we can’t vote, as much as reasons why we should vote.
We should do our civic duty and vote to send these politicians back to Mordor or Azkaban or Dante’s ninth circle, or wherever it is these Republicans came from.
Justin Huft is a third-year psychology and social behavior major. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.