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“Foolish” college kids messing up local votes: residency & ID requirements coming for voters?

Butler University college students
Butler University college students
Brad J. Ward/Flickr

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College kids in a college town can tip the balance of an election, so much so that they’re becoming a threat to entrenched local political interests. “Voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do,” said William O’Brien, Speaker of the New Hampshire legislature and author of a bill that would permit students to vote in their college towns only if they or their parents had previously established legal residency there. Students “lack experience,” said Speaker O’Brien, “they just vote their feelings.” This is one of many bills in several states that are being pushed by resurgent Republican legislators that, depending on whose argument you’re listening to, are righteously reforming local elections to benefits true locals or punishing traditional Democratic voting blocks. It’s no coincidence that many of the states that are considering similar legislation are expected to be battlegrounds in 2012, Wisconsin, North Carolina and New Hampshire among others. There are also photo-ID bills coming in many states that could inhibit the vote of immigrant groups. Are these bills solid, practical legislation or thinly veiled political attacks?


Thomas Bates, vice president for civic engagement, Rock the Vote

Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank

Sam Polstein, legislative affairs director for the Associated Students of Madison (UW-Madison's Student Government)