The Right of College Students to Vote

College student voting rights are under assault again. Back in July, “Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster stood before reporters and TV cameras Monday waving a list of 206 college students who ‘may have conducted voter fraud here in Maine.'” Webster declared, “If you want to get really honest, this is about how the Democrats have managed to steal elections from Maine people. Many of us believe that the Democrats intentionally steal elections.” Naturally, the Maine Secretary of State investigated this allegation about college students. And here was the result announced yesterday: none voted illegally.”

In June, Maine’s Republicans passed a law overturning same-day voter registration in the name of this fictional threat of vote fraud (a referendum in November will give voters the chance to decide the issue). The tactics to stop college students from voting are likely to increase in 2012, now that Republicans are targeting voting rights and young voters lean heavily Democratic. As I noted in an Inside Higher Ed column in 2007, “the quest to promote civic engagement by college students must begin with access to the ballot box.”

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