Students who pay out-of-state tuition in Indiana might not have the chance to vote come election time. State lawmakers are considering a bill that might cost some Purdue students a little more than some extra cash for their education. In fact, if passed the bill could end up costing some students their vote. “The thing that has raised so much attention, not just in Indiana but across the nation, has been the effort to tie eligibility for voter registration to the university’s billing process,” West Lafayette City Councilman Eddie VanBogaert said. VanBogaert, a Purdue graduate originally from Illinois, said under House Bill 1311, students who pay out-of-state tuition would no longer be able to vote in Indiana. VanBogaert said this is something he doesn’t agree with. “I’ve seen first hand how this billing process isn’t an appropriate stand-point for being able to determine someone’s eligibility to exercise a really fundamental right,” VanBogaert said.
Republican Representative Peggy Mayfield from Martinsville filed the bill. She said she’s trying to resolve an issue about determining who is an Indiana resident.
But, Tippecanoe County Clerk Christa Coffey also disagrees with the bill and said this would dramatically affect voting in Tippecanoe County.
“We reach out to the Purdue students and try to get them involved in our community,” Coffey said. “I’m not sure how we would enforce that because I’m not sure Purdue would be very willing to open up their tuition rolls for us to verify if someone did challenge based on the law.”
“Here in West Lafayette, a third of our population, a third of West Lafayette’s 30,000 people are student residents,” VanBogaert explained. “We’ve worked really hard to try and bring them into the community.”