A new bill (HB 1311) brought forth by newly elected Indiana State Rep. Peggy Mayfield, a Republican, would limit the voting rights of students who pay out-of-state tuition at Indiana universities. That segment of students would be prohibited from voting in the state without first registering as a resident of the state and maintaining that status for at least one year.
“We’re having people who are not necessarily residents voting in our elections,” Mayfield told the Indianapolis Star, adding that those students can always go back to their home states to vote in an election or file absentee ballots.
If passed, Mayfield’s law would undoubtedly get overturned in court. The Supreme Court has already ruled that similar laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court states that no American citizen should have to wait longer than a 30-day waiting period to acquire voting rights in a given state or county.
“It clearly singles out students and creates a different standard for them to obtain residence after moving into the state, and that violates our principles of equal protection,” Lee Rowland, counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law, correctly noted.
If a student – or anyone – is living in or intends to live in a state for the majority of four years, that person should have the right to vote for the people who will be making decisions that will affect him or her, such as state and local tax rates on bags, alcohol and income.
How would Ms. Mayfield feel if her two college-aged sons (21, 20) were told they couldn’t vote in their college towns?
It’s not often that we as conservatives agree with progressives on the issue of restricting young peoples’ right to vote, which should be cause for alarm for Ms. Mayfield, who is also a self-identified conservative. Placing unnecessary restrictions on the rights of young people to vote in Indiana will likely prove detrimental to getting young people in the state interested in the Republican Party. It would also reinforce the stereotype that ‘the GOP hates young people’ that is propagated by progressives, namely the folks at the Brennan Center. Hopefully Rep. Mayfield and her peers will recognize that such a law would be both unfair and unconstitutional and will make every effort to steer clear of it in the future.