New voter ID laws being enacted in states across the nation could prevent many college students from voting in the next election. These laws, which have been passed in states such as Florida, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, among others, have the stated goal of preventing fraud by requiring voters to present photo ID when they go to the polls. But these laws may have unintended consequences, both for young people and the two presidential candidates. Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote, a nationwide organization that mobilizes young voters, said that while these laws vary from state to state, they all make it harder for young people to register and vote. “We have a very busy year ahead of us, and a very important one,” she said in an April 21 Reuters article. “What a shame if we can’t continue to engage this generation in the political process, because these laws have made it harder.”
The principle problem for college students is that many of them attend school out-of-state and don’t have a state issued ID. In addition, many states, such as Pennsylvania don’t accept college issued IDs, because they lack an expiration date. This leaves colleges and universities with the option of either creating and reissuing new ID cards with expiration dates or adding stickers with an expiration date to the current IDs.
Pennsylvania State University has chosen a mixture of these two solutions. Starting with the Summer 2012 semester, new students will be issued an ID with a printed expiration date. Current students who don’t have any other forms of ID that enable them to vote will be issued a sticker with an expiration date.