Rep. Lepore-Hagan: Transportation budget no place for attack on student voting rights

COLUMBUS– Today the Ohio House voted to approve the final version of the state’s transportation budget. The $7 billion bill, which largely funds Ohio’s infrastructure projects over the next two fiscal years, was initially passed in the House with bipartisan support but drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers after a student voter suppression provision was inserted during Senate deliberations.

“I wish the majority caucus could focus on repairing and improving our state’s critical infrastructure without needlessly inserting a voter suppression measure,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown). “I don’t believe any individual should have to face undue government burdens and fees just to exercise the basic democratic right to vote.”

The provision will require anyone who registers to vote in Ohio to surrender their driver’s license if it’s 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. The amendment appears to be aimed at the over 100,000 out-of-state students who come to Ohio each year and exercise their constitutional right to register and vote.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens including the right to travel and the right to vote. And the US Supreme Court decision in Symm v. United States, 439 U.S. 1105, 99 S.Ct. 1006 (1979) largely settled the right of college students to vote where they reside, including at their college address.  

Featured Posts