When less than half of registered voters actually show up to vote, Ohio Republicans are happy. Voter turnout this past November in Ohio was the lowest it’s been since 2007, with 40.65 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, and Republicans cleaned up.
So Presidential election years bring on The Headache for Buckeye State GOPers. What with all the young people and minority populations showing up to participate in their self-governance, Republicans are inconvenienced with having to worry about appealing to a wide spectrum of voters: Total frekin’ bummer, man.
And they don’t do so well at it, losing the state twice to President Barack Obama, and losing the governorship and a variety of other statewide offices the last time voter turnout went over 50 percent in a non-presidential year, in 2006.
But developing policies that appeal to people beyond their donor class and fanatical base takes work. And, besides, where’s the money in it?
What if, instead, they could backdoor a way to cut off thousands of young people from participating in democracy before 2016? Maybe slip some arbitrary new requirements in a transportation bill, how’s that sound?
From the Columbus Dispatch:
A Republican provision to require out-of-state college students to obtain Ohio driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations if they want to vote in the state is being denounced by minority legislative Democrats as a “poll tax.”
But Republicans say it has nothing to do with voting and is all about residency.
The Senate-added measure to the transportation budget would declare residents of other states as Ohioans if they register to vote and require them to obtain Ohio licenses and registrations within 30 days.
State law now permits about 116,000 out-of-state students to register, become residents and vote in Ohio while still recognizing their driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations from their home states.
Ya hear that, college students? Living someplace for nine months out the year isn’t enough to give you the right to participate in decisions about your governance. No, no, there are “residency” concerns to be addressed.
Knowing how wealthy you all are—living high on the Ramen Noodles and Natty Light hog—and knowing with what solemn, rapt attention you follow Ohio transportation legislation, what’s over $75 and a nice long day at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to ensure your right to vote? Never you mind if you don’t have a car or don’t drive, you get your license and registration regardless, dammit, this is what democracy is all about!
This is an important lesson for you college folk. You see, 58 countries throughout the world had higher voter turnout in their last presidential elections than these United States. Paragons of freedom and democracy such as Uruguay, Turkmenistan and Equatorial New Guinea kicked our veritable asses in voter turnout.
So of course the appropriate response is to continue to put up roadblocks that discourage voter participation. Because freedom.
Now all sorts of concerns have been raised about the constitutionality of such requirements, the impact the requirements would have on veterans receiving education through the G.I. Bill, restitution, and what the hell penalty there might be for not obtaining said driver’s license and registration and voting anyway.
Felony voter fraud? Well then, at least voter fraud might be a real thing. Hey now, I see a nice excuse for Voter ID laws! First they came for the out-of-state college students, and I was not an out-of-state college student…
But let’s not fret, with our thus amended transportation bill, everybody wins… Except college students, and, uh… veterans, and, uh… anyone who believes in democracy or expanding the franchise instead of finding ways to limit it. But yeah, everybody wins. Hooray, us!
David DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.