Silencing the voice of college students


By Shayna Han

Over vacation, I was reading an op-ed in The New York Times regarding college students voting in the areas where they go to college. Republican lawmakers in seven states have attempted and succeeded in requiring a government-issued ID to register to vote, such as a driver’s license or passport.

However, these laws could be used so that out-of-state driver’s licenses are not valid forms of ID. Why? Because Republicans want to decrease the power of the Democrats’ voting base – college students are more likely to vote for Democrats.In a video that went viral [New Hampshire House Speaker, William O’Brien] called college students “foolish,” saying that college students vote “liberal” because “they don’t have life experience, and they just vote their feelings.”

I checked for more information and found concurring articles within other publications: The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and a slew of organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

Some Republicans claim they’re making voter registration laws more stringent because of voter fraud, but voter fraud barely exists in the U.S. today.

Even more disturbing, some have admitted the true reason for the new laws, for instance New Hampshire House Speaker, William O’Brien. In a video that went viral, he called college students “foolish,” saying that college students vote “liberal” because “they don’t have life experience, and they just vote their feelings.”

The actions that are being taken to restrict the suffrage of American college students is pathetic at best and evil at worst. It undermines the core of democracy, or what should be the core of democracy: a plethora of different opinions.

Different opinions make up a democracy; different opinions are what sustain and nourish democracy. If you get rid of voices that don’t match your own, then you will be left with a dictatorship.

I know that most of us at Union are New York residents, I know that New York is a very liberal state, but I think this is an issue we all need to be aware of. The facts speak for themselves. One party is trying to gain a political advantage by silencing members of our democracy: us.

We, as college students, are being disregarded as nothing more than childish, immature ignoramuses who are voting liberal because it’s a “rebel” thing to do. We’re being labeled as unthinking, unintelligent, irresponsible little brats.

What I find further compounds the outrage about the matter is that there are members of the military who are our age. They are fighting wars in foreign lands, risking everything for a democracy that will say, when they come home and return to school, that their vote doesn’t count because they are students.

Some of these outrageous laws have been stopped. The Justice Department blocked both South Carolina and New Hampshire’s new laws, but that will merely slow this movement to silence college students.

Voting could become extremely difficult if new measures make college IDs and out-of-state driver’s licenses unacceptable forms of identity and prohibit those who pay out-of-state tuition to vote while they are at school.

The New York Times op-ed ended with this frightening depiction of the future, “Imposing these restrictions to win an election will embitter a generation of students during their first encounter with the machinery of democracy.”

One day, not so far in the future, we’re all going to inherit the greatest democracy on Earth. But what will happen to American democracy tomorrow if our political leaders today fail to instill in us pride and faith in the system and the value of each of our votes?


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