Some college students’ right to vote might be threatened if a new piece of legislation is passed.
A bill requiring voters to present a form of photo ID at the polls is expected to be filed this week, and it might make it harder for students to vote. Similar bills have been introduced across the nation.
“It could dramatically affect students in different ways,” said Bob Hall, executive director for Democracy N.C., a nonpartisan organization that advocates for voter rights.
The exact wording of the bill is still unknown, but if it requires a government-sponsored ID, private university student ID cards will not be considered valid, he said.
Public university student ID cards would be acceptable, unless the bill requires an address on the card, Hall said.
And students might not be able to vote in the county of their school if their driver’s license address is from another county or state, he said.
The bill’s goal is to reduce voter fraud, said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ric Killian, R-Mecklenburg.
He said the bill will affect students no more than any other registered voter.
“All the bill does is ask you to prove you are who you say you are,” Killian said. “It’s going to increase the validity of the results in North Carolina, and I think people are looking for that.”
The bill is expected to pass, he said.
But the opposition facing the bill has expressed concerns about groups who would have the most trouble obtaining a valid ID.
“It puts up new barriers for young people,” Hall said. “It’s like a witch hunt after some mysterious problem that doesn’t really exist.”
He said the bill will also affect minorities, elderly voters who do not drive and even women who have changed their last names.
“It is uniformly Republican sponsors pushing this,” he said. “It does look like this is an attempt to purge certain voters that they don’t like, including young people.”
Damon Circosta, executive director for the N.C. Center for Voter Education, said college students can anticipate being disproportionately affected by the bill.
“This is definitely a purely politically motivated bill,” said Nathan Westmoreland, co-president for the UNC Young Democrats. “Short of a natural disaster, it’s pretty much going to be the most important thing in the state this year.”
Westmoreland said the bill could prevent thousands of people from voting, half of which would be Democrats.
The other half would be split between independents and Republicans, he said.
UNC Young Democrats have been actively trying to make students aware of the bill, he said.
They have been urging students to contact their legislators about the bill, he said.
“Out-of-state students would be most affected, who don’t have a North Carolina ID,” said Burton Peebles, co-president for the UNC Young Democrats.
“It would force a lot of students to spend a lot of unnecessary time and resources to get a new ID.”
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