House Democratic Caucus Asks Kasich To Veto Student-voting Barrier In Transportation Budget
Proposed law change would make it harder for students to vote
March 27, 2015
 
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The Ohio House Democratic Caucus today sent a letter to Gov. John Kasich asking him to veto a provision in the state’s transportation budget that would make it harder for students to vote in Ohio.


The provision will require anyone who registers to vote in Ohio to surrender their driver’s license if it is from another state, obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicle with the state. Failure to do so within 30 days results in a criminal offense.


Students and lawmakers have estimated that this imposes a cost of about $75 to $100 for out-of-state American students to vote for local issues and candidates that carry quality of life consequences for students and the communities in which they live.


The Ohio Senate Democratic Caucus sent a similar request to the governor following Wednesday’s Senate vote.


A copy of the letter is available below:


March 27, 2015


Dear Governor Kasich,


We write to ask you to use your executive authority to veto the provision tying voter registration to motor vehicle residency in Substitute House Bill 53. After careful review of this provision, we believe it is contrary to the best interests of Ohioans, specifically students attending college from out of state. The Senate amended version contains a provision requiring those who register to vote to also obtain state driver’s licenses and vehicle registrations.


This provision targets out-of-state students who attend Ohio’s colleges and universities, requiring them to jump through a number of hoops and pay unnecessary fees to participate in Ohio elections—or face fines and a criminal record.


This amendment forces students to pay $75 or more in order to register to vote in Ohio. The U.S. Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens including the right to travel and the right to vote. The 1979 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Symm v. United States largely settled the right of college students to vote where they reside, including their college address, without undue burden.


Students would undoubtedly find it harder to vote in Ohio under this provision. In a state where barely half of registered voters show up to the polls, we should be doing everything we can to increase voter turnout—not erecting barriers to student voters. This provision sends the wrong message to students coming to Ohio to attend our schools. Forcing students to pay the equivalent of two new textbooks or more simply to register to vote in local elections is unfair. Targeting students at the ballot box is the fastest way to ensure they leave Ohio after graduation.


This provision does not belong in a budget bill. It does not belong in any bill. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prohibits voter intimidation such as using one’s voter registration status to target, investigate, prosecute and criminally punish anyone for unrelated matters. Vehicle registration and making students use dorm addresses on driver’s licenses should not be tied to voting in this way. Schools already provide proof of residence to every student in Ohio. Furthermore, The U.S. Census Department counts out-of-state students at their dorm addresses regardless of what their driver’s license reads, because residency for every purpose is not determined by one’s privilege to drive.


The hallmark of our voting system should be free, fair and open elections. With this provision, students taking the initiative to engage in the political process will be met with a system that is far from free—and certainly not fair. We ask that you veto this voting rights provision from Sub H.B. 53.


Sincerely,


Minority Leader Fred Strahorn


39th House District


 


Assistant Minority Leader Nicholas J. Celebrezze


15th House District


 


Minority Whip Kevin Boyce


25th House District


 


Assistant Minority Whip Nickie J. Antonio


13th House District


 


Rep. Michael Ashford


44th House District


 


Rep. Heather Bishoff


20th House District


 


Rep. Janine Boyd


9th House District


 


Rep. Jack Cera


96th House District


 


Rep. Kathleen Clyde


75th House District


 


Rep. Hearcel Craig


26th House District


 


Rep. Michael F. Curtin


17th House District


 


Rep. Denise Driehaus


31st House District


 


Rep. Teresa Fedor


45th House District


 


Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry


59th House District


 


Rep. Stephanie Howse


11th House District


 


Rep. Greta Johnson


35th House District


 


Rep. Christie Kuhns


32nd House District


 


Rep. David Leland


22nd House District


 


Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan


58th House District


 


Rep. Michael O’Brien


64th House District


 


Rep. Sean J. O’Brien


63rd House District


 


Rep. John Patterson


99th House District


 


Rep. Debbie Phillips


94th House District


 


Rep. Dan Ramos


56th House District


 


Rep. Alicia Reece


33rd House District


 


Rep. John Rogers


60th House District


 


Rep. Michael P. Sheehy


46th House District


 


Rep. Stephen D. Slesnick


49th House District


 


Rep. Kent Smith


8th House District


 


Rep. Michael Stinziano


18th House District


 


Rep. Martin J. Sweeney


14th House District


 


Rep. Emilia Sykes


34th House District

 
 
 
  
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