March 15, 2019/Press

Republican Inaction Could Disenfranchise Students Across the State

Raleigh – Today, the State Board of Elections announced it was unable to approve applications for numerous universities, colleges, state and local employers, including charter schools, and tribal entities across the state seeking to comply with legislative Republians’ voter ID requirements. This problem is Republican-created, Republican-led, and driven by the GOP’s determination to silence young voters across North Carolina.

Rep. David Lewis promised that the legislature’s “commitment to have college students vote is unwavering.” Yet when legislative Democrats proposed several bills, including HB167, filed by Reps. Russell and Hawkins, and amendments to bills such as SB214, filed by Sens. Marcus and Nickel, to offer universities more time and to help ensure student IDs could be used at the polls, Republicans blocked all of them.

“Senate Republicans have opted to hold colleges and universities to an arbitrary deadline,” Sen. Natasha Marcus (SD-41) said. “Our legislative fix to give them a little more time was reasonable, and Republicans’ failure to accept it highlights a calculated endeavor to keep young people from voting.”

“This voter suppression legislation is a train wreck waiting to happen,” Sen. Wiley Nickel (SD-16) said. “We need more time to properly implement this legislation and ensure voting is accessible for students across the state.”

Republicans put a constitutional amendment on the ballot that required photo ID at the polls, despite the virtual non-existence of in-person voter-fraud. Legislative Republicans didn’t bother working out the details until after the 2018 election, when GOP legislators included student ID requirements that were intentionally difficult for colleges to meet.

“Defending access to the ballot box is vital, particularly in a state with a robust history of voter suppression,” Rep. Zack Hawkins (HD-31), who represents parts of NC Central University, said. “Republicans designed this system for failure. We should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder. I’m calling on my Republican colleagues to work with Democrats on this issue and do what’s right for all current voters and potential voters across North Carolina.”

With over 230,000 students in the UNC system alone, today’s decision could disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of young people.

“This problem lies squarely at the feet of a General Assembly who passed and lauded a restrictive voter suppression amendment, made it nearly impossible for universities to comply with its requirements, and refused to accept any legislative solutions to remedy the problem,” Rep. Ray Russell (HD-93), who represents Appalachian State, said. “We should not be treating something as important as voting rights for students across the state with chaos and confusion. The legislature must fix this now.”