I’ve participated in several voter registration and GOTV efforts on campus and elsewhere because I believe strongly that active participation in government is integral to the health of our democracy. It is vital that young people speak up and have their voices heard. The actions of our leaders today are going to greatly impact the actions we can take in the future, especially when it comes to the dire fiscal calamity that they are leaving behind (but that’s a story for another day).
You may or may not have been following the recent uproar over the firing–“purging” if you want to use the more alarmist tone–of the US Attorneys. But you should be. It has implications for young people’s ability to vote.
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but Josh Marshall and company at TPM Media have been extensively covering the “Purgegate” story as well as the Republican’s fascination with bogus claims of voter fraud. In this post, Josh tells it like it is:
You have to put all these pieces together to see the whole picture. The Republican party is heavily invested in hyping and inventing claims of voter fraud which they then use to stymie legitimate voter registration drives and institute ‘ballot integrity’ efforts which have the actual goal of limiting voting by racial minorities and under-income voters. The truth can hurt but that’s the unvarnished truth. And the backdrop to the US Attorney Purge was a concerted effort to enlist US Attorneys to put the power of the state criminal prosecution apparatus behind this partisan gambit.
So what does this mean to young people? Well, one of my pet peeves is the hodge-podge of different voter registration and voting requirements in the different states–believe me, if you’ve tried registering students in a quarter system, you know what I’m talking about. Some places require ID for first time voters, meaning no absentee voting for these would be voters. There are some states looking to have official IDs that are needed to vote, so those of you without a license can kiss your vote goodbye. There are also other issues I won’t bore you with.
Bottom line: more complex and stringent voting regulations will make it even more difficult for young people to register to vote and have their voices heard–and we already vote in low numbers. If the purge has the effect of adding hurdles to voting requirements, our participation will only decrease. Right now politicians are starting to listen to young people because they have no choice. We are becoming a powerful voting bloc and increasing our participation. We ought to make sure that we have the ability to vote. It is important to note that most of the “voter fraud” cases are bogus so any hurdles to our ability to vote will be based on known lies.
You don’t have to follow this as obsessively as some, but it’s a good idea to know what’s going on. TPM is a great place to find out more information.