Thursday, September 4, 2008

Registering young chickens

The ACLU of Virginia recently sent a letter to a number of local registrars urging them to allow students to register and to vote in their locality. The letter begins:
The ACLU of Virginia has heard troubling reports that general registrars in some localities have been prohibiting or actively discouraging students from registering to vote at the address where they go to school. With only a month left to register for the upcoming elections, I am writing to urge you to allow students to register in the locality that they consider to be their residence, without subjecting them to extra requirements or questioning.
Kent Willis, the ACLU executive director, then continues by explaining the State Board of Elections requirements and relevant case law.
With a number of colleges in the 6th District, this issue directly affects places like Roanoke, Salem, Lynchburg, Harrisonburg, Staunton, Lexington, and Rockingham County. All of those registrars were contacted and I can imagine some clucking about the intrusion!
The ACLU also sent press releases to college newspapers.
The registration deadline is October 6. Hopefully registrars will work with students to assure that all can register in the locality where they are actually residing most of the year - in their college community! Typically, those age 18 to 25 are the lowest voter turnout group. With high interest in this national election, 2008 gives a great opportunity to bring younger voters into this rite and responsibility of citizenship. Requiring them to vote by the cumbersome absentee ballot process, when they actually live at college nine months out of the year, seems to be placing an unreasonable obstacle to that participation. 2008 is, more than with any other voter group, about young voters' futures. Lets encourage them to vote rather than place roadblocks.

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