Don’t shut out young voters!

Don't shut out young voters!

A new voter suppression bill in North Carolina targets student voters... and their parents

The power of the youth vote in unquestionable. President Obama won young voters by 60 percent margin in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, a key factor in his victories in these states.

Yet instead of embracing this millennial might and reaching out to young voters, some partisans are scrambling for cheap tricks and suppressive legislation.

A bill proposed in the North Carolina Senate would impose harsh new restrictions on voters. Paramount is a measure penalizing parents whose children register and vote in the state where they attend college. Senate Bill 667, brazenly titled “Equalize Voter Rights,” would stop a parent or legal guardian from claiming their young voter as a dependent for state income tax purposes.

This doesn’t square with the Constitution. In 1979 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that college students have the right to register and vote in the district where they go to school. As Laura Conoway epitomizes, Senate Bill 667 “essentially requires a student’s parents to pay more if the student exercises that right.

In addition to these student restrictions, the bill cuts early voting, eliminates same-day registration during early voting, and requires voters to present state-issued photo ID. As Republicans control the state house, governor’s mansion, and the courts, these restrictions will entrench this control for decades to come.

The sponsor of the legislation, Senator Bill Cook, responded to criticism by claiming that his proposals would be appreciated by those who see voting as a “sacred duty.”

Senator Cook, how about reaching out to voters my age instead of targeting us and our families? How about engaging us in the democratic process instead of trying to shut us out? Perhaps you’ll find that we find voting as important and sacred as you do.