NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


September 28, 2004

Local elections officials often discourage students from registering and voting from their campus addresses, even though the Supreme Court has ruled that they have the right to do so, says the New York Times.

  • In Texas this year, a county district attorney threatened to prosecute students from Prairie View A&M University if they tried to register; the students had to file a lawsuit before he withdrew the threat and apologized.
  • A student at Hamilton College in Utica, N.Y., was told that he was not a "permanent resident" and had to vote from his parents' home in another state.
  • And a recent report by a Fox television network affiliate in Tucson quoted an elections official who warned, falsely, that University of Arizona students who registered from their dorms might be committing a felony.

Even when they don't actively discourage young voters, election officials are often unwilling to make it easier for them to vote, says the Times. They often resist appeals to put polling places on campus, and they devote too few resources to registration drives among students, whose rapid turnover makes them a group that requires special attention.

Election officials and institutions of higher education must do more to remove the barriers that still too often stand between young people and the ballot box, says the Times.

Source: Editorial, "Barriers to Student Voting," New York Times, September 28, 2004.

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