Never lose your capacity for astonishment.
Ohio Governor John Kasich defied his fellow Republicans and vetoed an amendment to a Transportation Bill — passed by the Ohio Legislature — that would have required new residents to acquire an Ohio driver’s license and vehicle registration within 30 days of registering to vote. That law’s language was also vague enough to call into question that status of drivers with temporary licenses or no licenses at all.
The law would have been a boon to Statehouse Republicans: college students tend to vote for Democrats. The law would have made it difficult for out-of-state students to vote in Ohio. Ohio driver’s licenses and permits cost about $77, a cost that could have been prohibitive for some students. About 29 percent of Wittenberg students are not from Ohio and would have lost their in-state voting rights if not for Kasich.
Kasich has repeatedly refused to be put in a political box. He is simultaneously one of the few Republican governors to support Obamacare and act as an enemy to public sector unions. His veto of this amendment is another example of his aggressively independent style. If he does decide to run for president in 2016, he will be one of the most interesting candidates in the field.
The Ohio Legislatures’ efforts to disenfranchise students are disturbingly unsurprising. Republican-controlled legislatures all over the country have been pushing for more restrictive voting laws that disproportionately affect the poor, minorities and the young. We should not have to accept that our voting rights are subject to political shenanigans.
New restrictions across the country have been justified by an imagined epidemic of voter fraud. A 2012 report by The New Yorker confirmed that voter impersonation is a virtually-nonexistent problem. The push for stricter voter identification laws is nothing more than politicians manipulating the electorate to their own advantages.
The Supreme Court decided in the ’70s that students have the right to vote in the district that they attend school as long as they meet all other requirements. Four years living in the state and paying tuition to Ohio schools represents a significant commitment to the state of Ohio that should not be undervalued. Students are valuable members of the community that contribute valuable time and energy. We deserve to be treated as citizens capable of contributing to the cities in which we live and learn.