What the new voting laws mean to us

Junette Reyes/Staff Writer

Republican-backed voter fraud laws have been causing quite the commotion as we near the 2012 Presidential Elections, especially because they are perceived to have been created by Republican officials with the ulterior motive of restricting left-leaning voters from voting.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, 17 states have passed restrictive voting laws that have the potential to impact the 2012 election. Florida is one of those 17 states. The groups expected to be severely affected by these laws are the elderly, the poor, minorities and young adults aged 18 to 24.

One of the notable points of change can be seen through the multiple Identification Laws that vary from state to state. Most of these require voters to show photo identification to vote, specifically government-issued IDs for some.

The young vote is particularly at risk in some of these states, as these laws have disallowed the use of college IDs as a form of valid identification. Texas, for example, presents the possibility of using gun permits as a form of identification while rejecting the use of student IDs. Georgia, on the other hand, accepts student IDs, but only from state colleges.

Fortunately for Florida college students, student IDs are accepted, so long as they have a signature of the students ID. FIU students presenting their Panther ID cards will need to provide an additional identification that includes their signature. Students that have opened a college checking account through the University’s partnership with Wells Fargo can present their debit or credit cards, which have the signature of the card holder on the back.

Those without the necessary identification should not be discouraged from voting this upcoming election. The Florida Division of Elections website indicates that those without the proper identification will be provided with a provisional ballot, which will count only “if the signature on the provisional ballot envelope matches the signature on your voter registration application.”

The voter registration process, as opposed to the voter identification process at the polls, has increased in difficulty for Florida residents because of these voter fraud laws. The Brennan Center for Justice states that along with Illinois and Texas, Florida “passed laws restricting voter registration drives” along with Wisconsin and “passed laws making it more difficult for people who move to stay registered and vote.”

The former could affect voter registration drives on college campuses; however, FIU is fortunate to have Turbo Vote, which is a “voter registration initiative with the goal of registering 10,000.”

The latter, could affect out-of-state students, for their claims of residency may be scrutinized, possibly resulting in the illegitimacy of their registration. Students moving to a school address would need to establish residency in Florida and in the election district in which they register. If not, they would then be obligated to request an absentee ballot from their original state and proceed, depending on how their state of origin operates.

At this point in the game, it is no longer a matter of deciding who to vote for, but a matter of even being capable of voting.
Whether the Republicans deny any intention of skewing the results or not; the fact of the matter is that some will have a tougher time making it to the polls come Election Day.

As students of a state that does not have it as difficult as others, we should take advantage of this ease and exercise the right given to us. We should not allow ourselves to be omitted, especially after having the highest rate of young voters in 2008 since 1992.


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