Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Young voters beware! You're a target!

Are students being targeted by N.C. elections boards trying to make it harder for them to vote?

Actions by the Republican-controlled Watauga County and Orange County elections board - approved on Monday by the GOP-controlled state elections board - are drawing that accusation from critics.

Election officials closed early voting sites at Appalachian State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in favor of off-campus locations, saying voting sites should be more geographically situated across the county.

But here's the thing. Those voting sites have been very popular, drawing thousands to cast ballots in past years. Allison Riggs, a voting rights attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, told WRAL's NC Capitol News that the early voting site at the Appalachian State student union attracted thousands of voters every election since 2008. (Significant pushback at Chapel Hill allowed the shut down of one-stop voting at the Rams Head Dining Hall on campus but allows early voting at Hillel on campus for the May primary; the plan had been to move it off-campus to downtown library.)

"You're talking about a town in which 60 percent of the voters are located in a pretty narrow area," she said. "Counties need to know there needs to be a rational basis for this decision. They can’t just try to stick it to young voters, stick it to college students."

They can try and too often succeed - and the "they" includes N.C. lawmakers.

Last year, lawmakers passed a voter ID law that doesn't accept a college ID as allowable to vote - something several other voter ID states do allow. The law doesn't even allow students to use their out-of-state driver’s licenses to vote, which nearly every other state that requires voter photo ID does allow.

Lawmakers even introduced - but did not pass - a bill that would have imposed a tax penalty on parents if their children register to vote at their college address. The bill would not have allowed parents to claim their child as a dependent for state income tax purposes if they registered to vote at an address other than their parents.

The bill would have also required voters to have their vehicles registered at the same address as their voter registration. That also could cut down on college student registration, since many students maintain their vehicle registration in their home counties.

Of the polling site changes, Bob Phillips, state director of voting rights group Common Cause. noted

“When we see polling places that have traditionally been on college campuses moved away and seemingly for not any good reason, it’s very concerning. It makes one think there are other reasons for this that have to do more with politics than, again, the goal of making voting easy and accessible for everybody.”

Phillips told WRAL that he has heard Republican-led elections boards in Cumberland, Guilford and Forsyth counties also are targeting polling sites on the campuses of Fayetteville State University, North Carolina A&T State University and Winston-Salem State University, respectively. Votes cast on all three campuses have historically favored Democratic candidates.

Some of the changes affect other voting populations as well. Under the Republican plan in Watauga, one-stop voting sites would have been open only 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, making it difficult for people who work full-time to use them. But after outcry, The state board did negotiate some changes. For the first two weekdays of early voting, one-stop sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the county and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Boone. The following week, all sites will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the final Saturday.

The legislature's voting changes last year also reduced the number of early voting days allowed even though early voting has surged in popularity over the past few elections in North Carolina to the point that in 2012, roughly 57 percent of North Carolina voters cast their ballots early. Lawmakers did mandate that counties had to maintain the same number of voting hours despite fewer days.

But more than a third of North Carolina's counties are asking for an exemption from maintaining the same number hours. Most of the counties asking for exemptions are rural, and their elections boards unanimously requested the exemption which is a requirement to make such a request, says the state elections board.

Some of the reduced hours may be necessary but so many exemptions does mean the claim of election law change proponents that voters still have the same access to early voting that they did before is inaccurate. And even where the hours do remain what they were previously, some elections board significantly cut after work and weekend hours. In Forsyth County in 2010 the county offered a total of 66 early voting hours which included more than 20 hours on Saturdays, Sundays and weekday evenings. This year’s plan has additional sites and the hours still total 66, but only nine of those hours are outside of working hours –including just three hours at one site for one Saturday.

Is democracy really served by changes like these that make it harder for citizens to participate in the elections process, not easier? I don't think so. Lawmakers and other policy makers should reconsider. The public deserves better.

- Fannie Flono

5 comments:

Skippy said...

Fannie, even you can stumble into the truth at time which by itself is amazing.. The young voters were in fact "targetted" by this President who seems to have a penchant for lying.. The entire Obamacare debacle was suppose to 100% funded by the young and healthy of course they didn't know that.. Game is up, the scare tactics are as lame as your race baiting that you do.

Exit 0 said...

...and this has what to do with this piece?

Archiguy said...

Skippy, were you born an idiot or do you have to work especially hard at it?

The Affordable Care Act, which this article is NOT about (I see reading comprehension is also not one of your strengths), is designed to have a mix of people including the young and healthy, in order to make the actuarial numbers work. That's how all insurance plans operate. You do understand that don't you? Perhaps you should have stayed in school after all.

What the President has been doing to trying to get young people to sign up for health insurance for two reasons: 1) So they'll be protected from financial ruin if they get sick or have a catastrophic accident, and 2) To make sure, in the event of such an unexpected event, they don't slough off those expenses onto Hospitals, doctors, and ER's, which result in higher rates for everyone else.

Funny, conservatives are usually against "freeloading". Except where health care is concerned, apparently.

Ghoul said...

Archiguy,

It would seem that young people are suddenly becoming conservatives, as they reject the President's offer to sign up for the ACA. You see, they are not as dumb as Democrats thought they were, and the realize that the burden of paying for the deadbeats rests on them, not necessarily the rich, who usually carry that burden.

Maybe you can explain why Democrats, like your favorite Kay Hagan, are running away from the wonderful ACA while running for reelection?

Shamash said...

Archiguy,

There are more than two reasons.

And you know it since you understand the way insurance works.

They need more relatively healthy people to carry the burden.

Just as they do for most social(ist) programs where those without "problems" support those who do have them.

The main problem today is that the young probably aren't feeling particularly generous in this economy.