The following press release is from the Fair Elections Legal Network. I thought it was worth passing along, especially since I recently heard from the parent of an out-of-state student attending a Virginia university that when the student tried to register to vote at his Virginia university, he was told that he could not register in Virginia unless he gave up his health insurance under his parents’ policy, that he would lose scholarship money from the state his parents live in, that he needed to get a drivers license in Virginia, etc. According to the Fair Elections Legal Network, which I just spoke with, none of that is in the least bit true. Which makes me wonder who gave out the faulty information, why, and how much of this type of thing is going on out there? Lame.
Virginia Questionnaire on Student Voting Rights is Misleading
On Friday, the Fair Elections Legal Network sent a letter to the Virginia Board of Elections asking them to remove a misleading and inaccurate questionnaire from their website that has the effect of discouraging Virginia college students from exercising their right to vote in their college communities. The questionnairecan be found on the webpage titled “Voter Info for College Students” on the Virginia Board of Elections website.
The “self-guided” questionnaire describes factors for out-of-state Virginia students to consider when deciding whether to register to vote in Virginia. However, the questionnaire does not provide any explanation of what is required under law to establish residency in Virginia for voting purposes, requirements that do not differ from any other resident. It does imply that students should consider factors that have no effect on establishing residency for voting purposes, including length of residence at their current address; tax dependency status; and whether a student is classified for in-state or out-of-state tuition status with their school. It also may lead students to believe they could lose their financial aid if they register to vote in Virginia which is only true in the rarest of circumstances.
The law is clear that students who attend college in Virginia are entitled to register to vote in their college community. The U.S .Supreme Court upheld such rights in 1979. Further, in 2009, regulations were adopted by the Virginia Board of Elections that clarifies out-of-state students have a right to register and vote in the Commonwealth if they so choose. The “Voter Info for College Students” webpage makes no mention of this policy and also does not inform students that the new ID law has expanded the use of student IDs for voting purposes.
“Virginia’s new voter ID law, along with this misleading questionnaire, may cause confusion for college students on whether they can vote in Virginia,” said Courtney Mills, staff attorney for the Fair Elections Legal Network. “The Virginia Board of Elections should remove this confusing questionnaire, clarify that students can vote in their college community, and go a step further by including new voter ID requirements that include student IDs from a Virginia institution of higher learning as acceptable IDs for voting purposes.”