I grew up in North Carolina, and I go to college at Duke University. Even though my driver’s license has my home address on it, I chose to register and vote at college for a variety of reasons – we have an early voting site on campus, I can walk in and vote with just my college ID card to prove my residency, and I would have to go home or vote using an absentee ballot otherwise. At a college with the vast majority of students hailing from outside of the state, many other students also choose to vote on campus.
However, last year, the North Carolina state legislature passed a bill that would require residents to have a state-issued ID in order to vote. While it was vetoed by the governor, the bill is back on the agenda, and it only needs a few members of the state house to change sides in order to override the veto. The original bill may need to be watered down before passage, but both versions would lead to massive drop-offs in the rate of college voting.
The forms of identification that may be provided include “bank statement, utility bills, or any government documents with name and address” in addition to driver licenses, passports, and new voter registration cards. Most students living in on-campus dorms have none of these, and if they do, they usually contain the student’s home address. It remains to be seen whether tuition bills would be acceptable as a form of identification, but requiring students to bring another piece of identification to vote will decrease turnout. The bill does not allow student IDs to be used as identification, even those issued by state universities such as UNC. Right now, my college ID card is proof of my residency in the dorm and I do not need a photo ID to vote. I do not have any pieces of identification that could be used to vote at school – I would be forced to vote at home.
Voter fraud isn’t exactly a pervasive problem. As WRAL News reports, “In 2011, the North Carolina State Board of Elections identified 12 non-citizens who had improperly voted in a North Carolina election. That’s 12 out of 6.3 million registered voters.” There is no need to put more restrictions on voting. If this voter suppression bill is passed, it will place an undue burden on thousands of college students wishing to vote.