THE SANTA CLARA
November 6, 2014
Aside from Mark Zuckerberg, most young voters don’t have the outlandish wealth to benefit from “trickle-down economics,” a theory that states economic growth will come from general tax cuts.
They also tend to think that people should marry who they want, a person need not mortgage their future when they get sick and that the Earth’s climate is actually changing.
As a result, young people tend to vote with the left.
In the past two elections, President Barack Obama surfed a wave of popularity among the youth into office. In 2008, Obama won 66 percent of 18 to 29 year-old voters, when Sen. John McCain won 31 percent. In 2012, Obama won 60 percent, when then Gov. Mitt Romney won 37 percent.
Conservative voters are a dwindling, aging demographic that is being overwhelmed by a more liberal youth. Republicans could adjust their policies to the tastes of voters, but instead, they parallel the self-reflection of “The Simpsons’” principal Seymour Skinner, who said, “Am I out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong.”
To prevent young people from having a say in government, conservatives legislate obstacles at every stage of the voting process.
The GOP attacks logical ways of registration. At the moment, there are only nine states that allow 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register when they get their driver’s license. Under this system, every driver is automatically registered to vote when they turn 18.
This sensible policy helps resolve the confusion of hundreds of thousands of young people in the United States who are unsure of how to vote. It is easy, efficient and should already be a federally mandated policy that makes voter registration as easy as possible.
However, GOP state representatives in North Carolina eliminated this style of registration under one of the toughest voting laws in the country. But they’re not satisfied with just blocking driver pre-registration. They also prohibited same-day registration which allows voters to register when they show up to the polls on Election Day. Studies have shown that this style of registration could increase voting numbers among youth by as much as 14 percent.
The Future is Not Now
These representatives are complicating what should be an easy process.
But they are not alone. GOP lawmakers in Minnesota are suing Secretary of State Mark Ritchie for creating a website that has already registered 2,000 new voters.
Online registration is the future. Filling out simple electronic forms in the comfort of one’s own home is a no-brainer approach to universal registration. Perhaps the reason why conservatives see this simpler, more convenient voting process as a plague is due to the fact that it could kill Republican chances at victory as more young voters register.
Even if a young voter leaps these hurdles, voting is not a simple matter.
Republicans have made a push to institute laws that require a “valid” form of identification to vote. GOP members claim they seek to prevent voter fraud, but this is a laughably small issue.
Voter identification laws have attracted attention for being racist, but they also profoundly affect young people.
Several states do not accept a university-issued identification card as “valid” for voting. In fact, in Texas, a potential voter cannot use their college identification card, but a gun license will do just fine.
In states like Tennessee, Wisconsin and Florida, the driver’s license of out-of-state students is not accepted either at the polling booth. Since out-of-state identifications are accepted for just about everything else, most students never even consider getting a card in their adopted state. But without this form of identification, they are banned from voting.
Securing proper identification is tricky. In college, many students live in temporary locations, requiring them to constantly update their residency information on forms. If they don’t, their registration will be contested, and the students will be barred from voting.
These tactics are as unconstitutional as the poll taxes, literacy tests and grandfather clauses of the Jim Crow South. This familiar disenfranchisement is masqueraded under the thin veil of “election integrity.”
Make a Change
Young people must stop supporting these efforts. We cannot afford to encourage movements like the pro-voter identification petition started by the College Republican National Committee. We must set political allegiances aside. These laws make life difficult for all youth voters.
GOP members are typically at the top of society. In the last election, Republicans won strong majorities among whites, those older than 65 and those making over $100,000 a year. Income inequality is at an all-time high, even higher than during the Great Depression. The wealthy upper crust is seeking to conserve a system that benefits them at the expense of minorities, youth and anyone outside the uber-rich.
The GOP is known for conserving the glory of the “good ‘ol days,” but these tactics deserve to die in the past.
John Flynn is a junior English and sociology major.