"Equalize Voter Rights": North Carolina Wants to Impose a Poll Tax For College Students
One demographic in which the Republican Party has been having trouble attracting votes from is younger generations. In 2012, six in ten younger voters aged 18-29 voted for Barack Obama. Much of the post-electoral conversation within the Republican Party has focused on how to gain a segment of this demographic, so national, state, county, and local elections remain favorable to Republican candidates. But the North Carolina legislature has come up with a novel way of dealing with the youth vote: discouraging young people from voting entirely.
In April, Senate Bill 667 ("Equalize Voter Rights") was introduced in the Republican-dominated North Carolina state legislature. The bill affects the voting rights of in-state North Carolina college students. Specifically, it financially penalizes their families if they vote in a certain way.
The bill would remove the tax exemption regarding dependents for the parents whose children register to vote at any address other then home. The exact text of the bill states its purpose:
"An act to provide that if a child registers to vote at an address other than that of a parent, that parent may not claim a personal exemption on account of such child …"
So even though college students may spend four or more years of their life away from their parents living in a completely different place, the North Carolina legislature thinks that those students should not have a say in the local politics that affect them. No vote in city council elections. No vote for local positions. No vote for their congressperson, if they happen to go to college in a different Congressional district then where their parents live.
House Minority Leader Larry Hall had harsh words for the Republicans who introduced the bill:
"I refuse to believe the Republican leadership has become so desperate to limit voting for partisan gain that they would be willing to support tax increases to achieve that goal. It is the definition of arrogance to penalize parents with new taxes just because their children want to exercise their right to vote in the community they live in."
The concentrated powers of college voters can easily be seen in the election results for 2012's Amendement 1, which sought to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The overall country result can below,
As expected, opposition was most concentrated in the counties with college students.
Defenders of the bill have used scathing and insulting rhetoric against those who would be affected. Jay DeLancy of the conservative Voter Integrity Project cited a local race in Buncombe that he believes was affected by college students. He said:
"That race showed how easily college students can be manipulated like pawns. These bills will protect students from such abuse."
That abuse is apparently exercising their right to vote where they live. Being a "pawn" is apparently having the audacity to participate in the civic process for things that affect you. This bill is nothing more then a more cleverly worded poll tax, the same kind of tax utilized to keep African Americans from voting in the wake of the Civil War. It goes against the founding principles of the United States and the North Carolina legislature should be ashamed that this bill even saw the light of day.