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Who Needs Integrity Anyway?

Robert Franklin

Posted on October 24, 2019 15:56

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College students now find themselves the targets of GOP-led voter suppression efforts.

An election cycle is coming -- assuming the last one actually ended -- and with that, a rise in measures to ensure certain people vote certain ways. It's "voter fraud" season, and I expect it to be a particularly vitriolic one.

Conservatives have a lot to lose in 2020 -- the executive branch, the majority in a malignant U.S. Senate, potential redistricting plans based on the upcoming census -- and staring them in the face is their greatest existential threat: voters --

Particularly, young voters disgusted with what has transpired during President Trump's debased tenure.

All metrics indicate the rate at which young people, particularly college students, vote is rising. According to a Tufts University study, the average student voting rate at U.S. colleges and universities more than doubled from 2014 to 2018. This 21 percent increase significantly outpaces the 13 percent rise in across-the-board voter turnout over the same period.

Predicated on the Kochian assumption that all U.S. colleges not named Liberty or Bob Jones are factory-producing liberal terrorists, the thought of this increase in collegiate voters must give conservatives pause.

This could be why the new targets of GOP-led voter suppression efforts are college students.

Recently, several states, notably New Hampshire and Texas, have enacted legislation in the name of "election integrity" that creates burdens for college students who want to vote. In Texas, laws were passed that prohibit polling locations that do not stay open for the entire 12-hour day. Even with colleges and universities in the state using their own funds to set up temporary polling spots for their students, the new law effectively bans their establishment.

For reference, collegiate voters were particularly important in Texas' U.S. Senate race last year, especially in Tarrant County -- which has historically been blood-red -- where Beto O'Rourke secured 4,300 more votes than Ted Cruz. Those campus polls in Tarrant County accounted for 11,000 votes.

In New Hampshire, confusing "domicile" laws may present an economic burden that many college students in the state will not be able to satisfy. Around sixty percent of New Hampshire's college students are from other states, and the state's Speaker of the House, William O'Brien, is on the record referring to college voters as "kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience."

These new laws present economic hurdles that function as a poll tax.

"Voter fraud" and "election integrity" have never been what these kinds of laws have been about. These laws primarily impact voters who are assumed to be Democratically-leaning. They affect people of color. They affect the poor. In this specific case, they affect collegiate students. So when someone like Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton states that "the threat to election security in Texas is real, and the need to provide additional safeguards is increasing," all I hear are the wolf cries of a man obsessed with parliamentary control willing to do whatever it takes to maintain it.

Even if it means endorsing a system designed to silence prospective voters.

Robert Franklin

Posted on October 24, 2019 15:56

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President-elect Donald Trump baselessly claimed that he "won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted...

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