Wanted to talk about college students voting because I’ve now gotten two emailed questions on it.
There are lots of unsubstantiated allegations made by media and conservatives about certain groups of voters, and, oddly enough, ALL of these unsubstantiated allegations are directed towards groups of voters who (mostly) vote for Democrats.
I live in Northwest Ohio. It’s cold. We have a large group of retired people who own homes in Ohio but actually spend very little time here, because they also live in Florida. However, every time we try to fund local public schools adequately (thankfully, our public schools are still truly public, and not taxpayer-supported “reformed” for-profits) we encounter huge pushback from part-time Ohio residents who object to paying property taxes. This is baffling because Ohio has a “homestead exemption” on property taxes that was enacted to protect seniors from large increases in property taxes. But I’m a lawyer, I know the residency rules and I think these anti-tax Tea Party seniors fit within the residency requirements for Ohio. I wouldn’t dream of accusing them of playing fast and loose with the rules by voting in Ohio, because that would be unfair and probably WRONG on the facts. Yet, nearly every day I read a fraud accusation leveled at some other group of voters, always young people, poor people, or racial or ethnic minorities. Weird how that works, isn’t it?
Quick: where does Mitt Romney “reside”? I would assume Massachusetts, because he once swore he was a Massachusetts resident, and there’s a transcript so he can’t deny it, but hell, I don’t know. He’s got property all over the country. For all I know he’s a California resident or a New Hampshire resident or a Utah resident. Maybe he “resides” where his money is, in Bermuda or the Caymans. I don’t plan to look, but you see my point. Investigations into “voter fraud” ALWAYS center on those voters media and conservatives apparently deem presumptively guilty of something or other.
For instance. Maine elected a Tea Party Governor who started a witch hunt into college student voters, because one of the conservative conspiracy theories around Obama’s election that the chumps bought into was that students voted twice:
After a two-month investigation into possible voter fraud by college students and noncitizens, Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers said Wednesdayhis evidence showed that none of the students committed fraud and only one noncitizen voted in Maine.
The secretary’s investigation began in late July after Summers was challenged by Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster to look into the voting habits of 206 out-of-state students attending public Maine universities. Webster wanted to know whether those students had established residency in Maine or whether they voted twice — in Maine and in their home state.
I was so pleased to find out that our young people (they are our future) have much higher ethical standards than the bankers who are dunning them on student loans. None of them voted in two states. None of them broke the rules. Not one.
One of his findings was that 77 students were registered in Maine and in another state between 2008 and 2010.
Asked whether that constituted fraud, Summers replied: “It is fraud if they intentionally did that. But it’s very difficult to prove [intent].” Summers said he doesn’t intend to further investigate their intentions.
People move around a lot in these United States, and registering in one state and then moving to another state and registering there is not “fraud” and it is not unlawful. It’s called “moving and voting.” I have been legally registered to vote in the following states: Georgia, Minnesota, North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio because I had a misspent youth so moved all the time for any or no reason at all. I never once removed my name from the voter rolls in one state before registering in the new state, because NO ONE DOES THAT. I COULD have done that, there’s a process for doing that, but I didn’t. The key is I didn’t VOTE in two or three or four states.
Another finding revealed that five students voted in two different places in the same calendar year — once in primary and again in the general election — but none voted twice in the same election.
Asked whether voting twice in the same year in two separate states constituted fraud, Summers answered: “Technically, it’s not a violation of the law. I’m not sure exactly how patriotic it is.”
What he’s saying here is he launched a partisan witch hunt and turned up nothing, but he’s a weasel and a coward so he has to cast doubt on the students’ character by throwing in that “technically.” It is perfectly legal to reside in one state, vote in a primary, and then move to another and vote in a general. No “technically” about it. People do it all the time. Conservatives may be living in some 1860 world where you’re born and die on the same patch of ground but normal people move from state to state whenever the urge hits them, and they don’t need to ask permission of the head of the Maine Republican Party. Liberty, baby. Move. Feel free. You don’t lose your right to vote. You may be the subject of a witch hunt and some harassment if you choose to move to a state governed by Republicans and are in the groups labeled “undesirable” but you don’t really have to follow the commands of political hacks and Party Leaders. Read the rules, and follow them.
As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote in the place you truly consider to be “home” — whether that’s your parents’ house, your apartment, or your dorm room. But before you make the important decision about where to vote, make sure you know the rules (and sometimes consequences) of registering to vote in that state.
Everything in the Ohio section is accurate except for early voting, but the Republicans just changed the rules on early voting, so that small error is understandable.