A story from CNN caught my eye yesterday:
Mississippi Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith appeared to say laws that make it “just a little more difficult” for attendees of some of the state’s universities to vote are a “great idea” in a video posted Thursday. “And then they remind me that there’s a lot of liberal folks in those other schools who maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult. And I think that’s a great idea,” Hyde-Smith says in the video.
Seems to be that this is more than a trend than in Rexburg. When I went and voted on the 6th at my precinct I was greeted by the sign (above) on the table where volunteers were sitting and where new voters were to register (we have same day registration in Idaho with photo ID and proof of 30 day residency — and yes, that includes students). I shared it on twitter and Idaho ACLU suggested that I call and report it and they’d look into it. As a result, they sent a letter to the Secretary of State and issued a press release, all of which can be found here. The Idaho statesman also had a good review of how things went down.
For the most part I support students voting by absentee (I’ve said this in other places before), but they also have a legal right to change their residency if they meet requirements and vote. Especially since about half the student body is married and many of them and their spouses work full-time in the community. Regardless all of the students need to know the real consequences, which at the very least means that for everyone registering to vote in Idaho, they now need to file taxes in Idaho and if they own a car, pay registration fees here. Rexburg has a history and reputation of discouraging students to vote — the most common refrain I’ve heard is that they’ve been told that there’s a good chance students could lose their scholarships and financial aid (I mean, really??) if they change their permanent residencies to Madison County. I think both the university and local communities hold a special responsibility of helping to educate these students on how and when to vote. Some might call it . . . a civic duty.