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Voter ID bill limits students' access
Foes say legislation restricts rights
 
Published Tuesday, July 23, 2013 8:03 am
by Amanda Raymond

College-issued identification may be rendered useless at the polls if an N.C. Senate bill goes through.

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PHOTO/LATISHA CATCHATOORIAN
N.C. NAACP President Rev. William Barber addresses the media outside Wake County Courthouse on July 22. The NAACP is joining a court challenge to North Carolina’s legislative districts.


The Senate has proposed a version of voter identification laws that is stricter than the House’s. It only allows seven types of ID to be shown at the polls, half of what the House version allows. The seven types would include a driver’s license, special state-issued identification card, U.S. passport, military identification card and veterans’ identification card. If passed, the bill would take full effect for the 2016 elections.


The House version would allow students on University of North Carolina campuses and state-supported community colleges to use college ID at the polls. The Senate version takes that option away.


Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said the Senate bill would make it harder for college students to vote.


“These are unnecessary, mean-spirited changes that target and punish college students who want to participate in the civic life of their college community,” he said in a statement, adding the Senate version would make N.C.’s law the strictest in the U.S.


Amanda Carringer, a rising senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, said the Senate version is uncalled for.


“I think that the law seems like an unnecessary restriction that would just make voting more inconvenient to college students,” she said. “I don't think the law is very conducive to getting young people to the polls, and this age group is difficult to get to the polls anyway.”


The bill also requires the state to provide free photo IDs to anyone without any other kind of identification.


Carringer said since most college students have driver’s licenses, the law might not be a big deal.


“Most college students also possess a driver's license, so the law might not have as much of a negative effect on voter turnout if it is well publicized that college students must show their driver's license at the polls,” she said.


Part of the reasoning behind the new bill is a fear that out-of-state college students could vote in two states, as expressed by Sen. Tom Apodaca, a chief supporter. The Senate bill would make the use of out-of-state driver’s licenses unacceptable unless the voter registered within 90 days of the election.


Adam Valentine, a New York resident who attends Shaw University in Raleigh, said although it is up to the state to determine its voter ID laws, it would be wrong to make voting inconvenient.


"As an out of state private school student, I wouldn't say it's unfair but more so a burden and a limitation,” he said. “Voting is a right and a privilege for all U.S. citizens that can’t be taken away.”

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