UDND Members Denounce GOP for Disenfranchising Students

UDND Members Denounce GOP for Disenfranchising Students

(GRAND FORKS – MAY 5) – University Democrats of North Dakota members David Evers, Sandi Kruse, and Jed Hanson wrote an op-ed piece concerning the effects of the new voter ID laws on students. The piece appeared in the Saturday, May 3, 2014 edition of the Grand Forks Herald.

GRAND FORKS — For decades, voting in North Dakota has been as easy as pie. In fact, North Dakota is the only state that doesn’t require voter registration. Voters could confidently go to the polls without fear that their right to vote would be suppressed by strict requirements.

But under the false cover of preventing voter fraud, Republicans in Bismarck have successfully adopted an oppressive voter ID law developed to turn students like us away from the polls.

Republicans have been pushing voter ID laws in states across the country following the downfall of key provisions in the Voting Rights Act. They claim that these laws are a response to rampant voter fraud and are not based on partisan politics.

But the facts aren’t on their side. Since 2000, only three North Dakotans have been accused of voter fraud, with one known conviction. We don’t see how this one case is so flagrantly criminal that it deserves a response that will turn thousands of young voters away from the ballot box.

The intent of the Republican Party is clear. This law was not a response to mountains of fraudulent ballots. This law was designed to prevent students, low-income citizens and the elderly from voting; these are groups that heavily vote for Democrats.

Formerly, student voters whose current addresses did not match their driver’s license could just bring in a utility bill with current address or sign an affidavit swearing they meet the voting requirements. Under the new voter ID law, students must update their state-issued ID or print a Student Identification Certificate from CampusConnection. The certificate system hasn’t even been built yet for private colleges.

This inconvenience is amplified by the lack of voter education efforts by North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger; the state hasn’t even explained to students how to get this certificate.

The Republicans are scared of young voters — and for good reason. They are out of touch with the issues we care about most. They’d rather fulfill the demands of the oil industry than invest in our universities and students. They’d rather restrict our access to health care, especially women’s health services, than make sure we can afford a visit to the doctor.

They’d rather prevent us from getting to the polls than take on our biggest challenges, such as crippling student-loan debt and unaffordable housing costs.

Republicans in Bismarck must be held accountable for ignoring our needs as students. Instead, they’d rather mute our voices in this election.

To vote in North Dakota, a person must you must be a U.S. citizen, 18 years old and living in their precinct for at least 30 days. Anyone may vote using an updated driver’s license or non-driver’s ID card. Student voters without those may vote using their Student ID card with a printable Student Identification Certificate.

The team at University Democrats is here to help students vote; we have a complete guide to voting on-campus or via absentee ballot on our website at UniversityDemocrats.org/Voting.

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