Today's CVP story of the day comes from North Carolina's Elon University. It's a great piece on the nonsense logic behind the state's voter
By The Pendulum Editorial Board
North Carolina recently passed laws that seek to not only tighten ID verification at the polls but also to shorten the voting period by one week and end same-day voting registration. Supporters of the new laws argue they will successfully curtail the prevalence of voter fraud in the state of North Carolina as well as save the state substantial amounts of money by shortening the voting period. These arguments are simply a weak attempt to mask the true purpose of these laws — to keep certain people from having access to the polls.
Many believe one person’s vote is very unlikely to have an effect on the outcome of an election. Though this may be true, providing a clear path to polls and keeping voting turnout percentages high means citizens will strive to be better informed about issues facing their states or countries. North Carolina’s new voter ID laws alienate college students, specifically those who were not born in the state and who are already wary about voting in the first place.
Only 17 percent of the class of 2017, hails from the state of North Carolina. With a majority of Elon students residing outside of the state, these new laws put a massive divide between Elon students and the polls. Elon is not the only school that has a majority of out of state students. Duke University, Wake Forest University and High Point University all draw an overwhelming majority of their student body from outside North Carolina.
College provides an intellectually stimulating platform from which students grow and mature as individuals. On their own for the first time, students form opinions and political views that are unique to them. As the newest eligible members of our democracy, the state and federal government should ensure college students have a clear and concise path to the polls.
A recent Elon University Poll showed that 65 percent of North Carolina residents supported the new law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. The law is most popular amongst Republicans, 96 percent of whom support the new security measures that are now in place. The law is least popular among Democrats, only 36 percent of whom support the voter ID requirements.
The Elon Poll, as well as several other data collection organizations, have found that voter fraud, which has been cited as one of the main reasons for the creation of the law, is very rare. In fact, many cases of voter fraud are often incorrectly classified as fraud. It seems as though only those who support the new law view voter fraud as a crippling threat to our democracy.
The 2014 election cycle will be the first time these new laws are enacted. Furthermore, the 2016 election cycle will be the first time in North Carolina when college student’s university IDs will not be an acceptable form of identification. These new measures will have a direct effect on not only limiting participation, but they will also intimidate first time or minority voters.
This issue is not one that is obvious to college students. Elon students have a knack for keeping themselves busy. College students, especially those who hail from outside North Carolina, should pay attention to these laws for they are directly limiting citizens’ rights to participate in elections.
Since the start of the 20th century, voter turnout in the United States has stayed relatively stagnant. According to the Bipartisan Research Center, the average percentage of eligible voter turnout in the U.S. has hovered between 48 and 57 percent since 1900. With women winning the right to vote in 1920, one would think voter turnout would increase as we move further into the century, but this is not the case.
Having a more informed and engaged electorate is not only good for the government, but it is also good for the state of North Carolina. The U.S. was founded on the belief that government officials would be elected by the people and serve the people. Each state should be striving to increase voter turn out, not restrict and limit it.
North Carolina’s new voter ID laws are in direct conflict with that constitutional right. Voting is a right that all citizens of the United States should be able to participate in regardless of race, sex or economic background. Government officials in North Carolina should reverse these new restrictions so all people may participate in our constitutional right to vote.
Members of the Editorial Board are Nick Foley, Jonathan Black, Katy Canada, Greg Honan and Lauren Phillips.