Sunday, February 17, 2013

Out-of-state Student Voting Bill Withdrawn

The J&C editorial staff put it well in their Friday editorial: "An assault on the voting rights of more than 11,000 out-of-state students at Purdue University — and for tens of thousands more in other Indiana college communities — has ended. For now." Indiana's home-grown version of voter suppression (HB 1311), one which would prevent anyone residing in our state for educational purposes only from voting in Indiana, has been withdrawn from consideration in the current legislative session and referred to a summer study committee.

The bill's nominal purpose was to prevent students from voting twice, once in the state where they are attending school and once in their home state; as the J&C editors point out, that is already a Class D felony. Never mind that no hard data on the extent of this particular form of vote fraud has been shown and that the college student population is more friendly toward a Democratic agenda than that of the supermajority Republicans. Most tellingly, like many of recent radical right proposals, this one is likely to be found unconstitutional. These self-proclaimed defenders of the constitution regularly ignore it when it doesn't support their ideology. As the J&C editors note:
"The biggest problem, though, is one that won’t go away by the time a study committee convenes this summer. The bill is likely unconstitutional. Similar efforts to screen college students and weed them out of local, Waller County, Texas, elections were struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1979."
The editors call it as they see it: "The voter suppression effort here needs to be put out of its misery." Read the editorial urging legislators to "give up on the attack on students' voting rights" here.