Tough new voter identification laws have shaken up college campuses around the country, where students — one of the groups most affected by the measures — are scrambling to comply.
The new laws could also put Republicans in a bind: Even as the party has ramped up its youth outreach efforts — hoping to siphon some of the youth vote from President Barack Obama — it has also backed state-level laws that make it harder for college students to vote. The College Democrats have spoken out against the laws, but so far the College Republicans seem unconcerned. The groups’ opposing views of the laws mirror their parties’ positions: Democrats believe the laws suppress legitimate votes; Republicans insist they’re necessary to combat voter fraud. “It’s not about being a Democrat or a Republican; it’s about wanting to be able to vote,” said Alejandra Salinas, president of the College Democrats of America.
A New Hampshire measure that ultimately failed earlier this year stoked Democratic concerns about the law’s true intentions. The law would have ended same-day registration and prohibited most college students from voting from their school addresses.
New Hampshire House Speaker William O’Brien, a Republican, told a tea party group that allowing people to register and vote on Election Day led to “the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is voting as a liberal. That’s what kids do — they don’t have life experience, and they just vote their feelings.”
Members of the College Republicans, however, seem to support the measures and are wary the laws will curb youth voting.