Thursday, September 25, 2008

Vote suppression update (Back-to-school edition)

College students are easy pickings: Many have never voted (or registered) before; they often change addresses frequently; many are in a new state or city where they're not familiar with the local election laws.

And this year, college-age voters are registering in much higher numbers than usual, in large part because of the Obama campaign's efforts.

All of which makes stories like this less surprising than they should be:


Colorado Democrats accused a Republican county clerk Wednesday of falsely informing Colorado College that students from outside the state could not register to vote if their parents claimed them as a dependent on their tax returns.

At a news conference in Colorado Springs, Democrats also criticized Robert Balink, the El Paso County clerk and recorder, who was a delegate to the Republican National Convention, for taking other steps they said would dampen voting by college students, who are expected to heavily favor Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. […]

Balink issued a statement saying his office had misinterpreted state law and "mistakenly published information that was incorrect."


The Drexel Dems Web site has an item up about a flyer taped to several tables across campus, essentially saying that anyone who goes to vote on Nov. 4 will be arrested if they have any outstanding traffic violations or warrants.

The letter, which was signed Anonymous, also said that the license plates of cars will be checked for traffic violations and that cars will be immobilized if a search comes up positive.

Let's make something immediately clear: this is all a lie, no doubt designed to intimidate many first-time college-age voters.


Confused yet?

Virginia Tech students certainly were when they were delivered these conflicting messages over the past few weeks. With voter registration drives in full swing on campus, students got word from the local registrar of elections that they could face consequences if they registered to vote in Blacksburg—they could lose residency-based scholarships, or their tax status could change—even though, according to the Supreme Court, students have the right to vote where they go to college.

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