Thursday, May 09, 2013

North Carolina Republicans' Move To Shut Down Student Voting Provokes Social Unrest


The video above is from Rachel Maddow's Monday MSNBC show. It's another story of how Republicans-gone-wild are trying to turn back history, this time the enfranchisement of college students in 1971. Many conservatives have fought that right from day one by putting obstacles in the way of students voting in the towns where their colleges were located. Republicans in control of legislatures across the country are doing it again.

In 2010, after the Tea Party takeover of the General Court of New Hampshire, which is what Granite Staters call their 400 member legislature, preventing college students from voting became a top legislative priority for Republicans. The state Senate wound up with 19 Republicans and only 5 Democrats and the GOP margin in the lower house was 298-104. They worked towards overturning marriage equality, reinstating the death penalty, cutting back on women's choice, putting up barriers to union organizing and taking away students' right to vote.

Are college students residents of the towns where they attend school, or are they interlopers, merely stopping in along the way with little vested interest in local affairs?

The controversial question has been posed in New Hampshire, where proposed legislation would take away students’ right to vote in their college town unless they lived there before enrolling and intended to stay-- a move that could have possible overtones for the first-in-the-nation primary.

Already, the weeks-old legislation is getting serious attention from Republicans and stirring angry responses from Democrats who say the bill is a thinly veiled effort to bar liberal-leaning students from casting ballots. Election law specialists in New Hampshire and beyond have offered criticism-- the proposal, they say, flouts court rulings on the question-- while college students are crossing party lines to protest the bill.

“We think that we are part of the communities where we are going to school and we think it’s wrong for the state to choose its voters,’’ said Jeremy Kaufmann, president of Dartmouth College Democrats, which is working with Dartmouth College Republicans to craft a retort to the bill at an as-yet unscheduled legislative hearing... [The] bill extends the same voting restrictions to members of the military and federal employees temporarily stationed in the state. Currently, military members and federal employees, like college students, are permitted to vote in New Hampshire while they are in the state.

...College student voting dramatically expanded in 1971, when the 26th Amendment lowered the voting age from 21 years of age to 18 in response to concerns that 18-year-olds could be drafted to serve in the Vietnam War but had no electoral say.

Questions quickly arose over whether students should vote at home or where they go to school. A 1972 US Supreme Court ruling that held that the town of Hanover could not bar a Dartmouth College student from voting because his parents lived in Hawaii and he planned to leave Hanover after graduation.

...Richard Sunderland, president of Dartmouth College Republicans, said the measure should be defeated, despite any advantage that might give to Democrats. The answer to that issue lies not in restricting the votes of college students, he said, but in broadening the appeal of the GOP to college students.

“Attacking the right to vote is attacking a symptom, not the problem itself,’’ he said.
The Republican efforts failed in New Hampshire because the state had a Democratic governor. North Carolina doesn't; they have puppet Pat... and a demented, anti-democracy General Assembly determined to keep students from voting. And that's led to protests and dozens of arrests in Raleigh.
Many of those arrested last week, including the Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP, were among the more than 80 people who crowded into the Legislative Building rotunda leading to the Senate chambers to observe and join in chants of protest.

...The group arrested Monday included Barber's 20-year-old son, William Joseph Barber III, a student at North Carolina Central University; William Chafe, former dean of Arts and Sciences at Duke University; Robert Korstad, a professor of public policy and history at Duke; Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, an historian at the University of North Carolina; Charles van der Horst, a professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and members of the social justice group Raging Grannies.

"I started in 1954 at the Youth March for Integrated Schools in New York," said Vicki Ryder of Raging Grannies. "I've been doing this for a long time."

She and her fellow protestors directed their anger at the GOP-controlled legislature, which has refused to accept federal dollars to expand Medicaid to provide health insurance to more poor people, cut unemployment benefits, ended the earned income tax credit and passed new voting restrictions. Republicans have controlled the Legislature since 2011.

Van der Horst said those policies, in addition to efforts to restrict access to abortion, expose hypocrisy within the GOP ranks.

"These people don't believe in the sanctity of life," he said. "They believe in protecting their own wealth and their own power."
Even before the demonstrations and arrests started, this is how the University of North Carolina's student paper, the Daily Tar Heel was covering the Republican Party War On Education.
Proposals in the N.C. General Assembly ranging from tuition hikes to student group functions have brought a bedrock issue to the fore: the degree to which UNC-system campuses will continue to be granted autonomy from the state.

And they have drawn the ire of UNC administrators and students.

University administrators lobbied against the 12.3 percent tuition increase for out-of-state students at six schools, including UNC-CH, proposed in Gov. Pat McCrory’s budget.

Drew Moretz, vice president for government relations for the UNC system, met with McCrory’s team while his budget was being drafted to discuss concerns.

He said the tuition increase could result in fewer students enrolling at system schools, which could discourage businesses from staying in the state.

...Bruce Carney, provost for UNC-CH, said the money from tuition increases would funnel into the state’s general fund rather than universities.

“Increasing the tuition and keeping the money is the legislature’s prerogative, but morally it’s indefensible,” he said.

“The revenues from tuition increases should be going to support students, the faculties, the libraries and the University operations.”
UNC, Chapel Hill senior Zaina Alsous, who was arrested Wednesday at a protest along with students from UNC campuses at Charlotte and Greensboro, pointed out that "we’re even seeing public education, normally a bedrock of our state, under devastating attack from those in power” and called for mass resistance. Puppet Pat seems oblivious and won't talk about anything but his plans for offshore drilling and fracking.

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