NC GOP pushing poll tax to stop Dem-leaning college kids from voting

A bill filed in the North Carolina General Assembly this week would remove the state income tax deduction for dependents who register at an address other than their parents.  In other words, parents of college kids would be punished with a new tax if their kids registered to vote at school – thus pressuring the kids not to register to vote.

With this bill, it appears that we have found the one tax Republicans actually like: a poll tax.

As you’ll recall, a poll tax was legislation commonly used in southern states (as part of a larger package of racist Jim Crow laws) to stop African-Americans, among others, from voting. Poll taxes were often justified as measures for bringing in revenue, a claim also being used to justify this legislation.

The bill would also require vehicle registration to correspond with voter registration – since college students tend to keep their cars registered at home, this would also cut down on students voting – and has been incorporated into an omnibus bill that would restrict early voting and eliminate same-day voter registration.

North Carolina poll tax is intended to stop Democratic-leaning students from voting

The practical impact of the legislation is that it would cut into Democratic dominance in several counties in which Democrats rely on the student vote.  It’s also a swipe at national Democrats – the youth vote was critical to Obama’s 2008 victory in North Carolina:

In North Carolina, Obama won the state, taking 74% of the under 30s but losing all the older age groups.

And the youth vote nationwide continued to buoy Obama in 2012 as well.  Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post explained how the youth vote is now an indispensable part of winning national elections:

The youth vote is no longer dismissible: In 2008, then candidate Obama promised to energize the youth vote like no candidate had done before him. Eyes rolled — including ours.  But Obama was right.  Voters aged 18-29 comprised 18 percent of the electorate in 2008 and Obama won them by 34 points.  Surely, skeptics insisted, that showing was a one-off — built around Obama’s nonpartisan call for “hope” and “change.” Or not. According to the latest national exit polling, 19 percent of the electorate was aged 18-29 and Obama won that group by 24 points. Once is an anomaly. Twice is a new political reality. The only question going forward is whether the youth vote is tied to President Obama uniquely or whether it is an advantage for Democrats more broadly.

And if the Republicans can’t get young people to vote for their intolerant and retrograde policies, they’ll simply stop them from voting all together.

GOP poll tax sponsors know college students are less likely to vote absentee

Empirical analysis has shown that college students are less likely to vote if they use the absentee balloting process than if they do so in person, and black students are even less likely to take advantage of the absentee process than their white counterparts.

Voting is an exercise in collective action; citizens in general, not just young ones, are less likely to vote if it is turned into an individual pursuit. Matters between you and your neighbors or classmates are more likely to be taken seriously than matters between you and your P.O. box.  In other words, your P.O. box won’t judge you if you don’t honor your social commitments by not voting.

Moreover, what the old, white North Carolina Republicans who are good at snail-mail (Representative Bill Cook, the bill’s sponsor, looks like he’s sent a few letters in his day) realize all too well is that young, diverse college students are quite the opposite: they’re really bad at snail-mail. Expecting college students to locate an absentee ballot request form, print it out, fill it out, mail it to the correct registrar’s office, retrieve their ballot in a timely manner, fill that out and mail it back is a losing (or, if you’re a North Carolina Republican, winning) proposition.

Regardless, the issue here isn’t why college students don’t vote absentee, it’s that Republicans know they don’t, and are using that fact to stop college kids from voting all together since they don’t vote for enough Republicans.  The GOP is crafting legislation intended to stop college kids from voting, lest they vote more Democratic than Republican.

GOP poll tax supporters claim they’re sparing students the “abuse” of voting

Jay DeLancy of the NC Voter Integrity Project cited a case, in which college students in Buncombe County ostensibly changed the outcome of a race for a county commission seat in 2012, to argue that the bill wasn’t restricting students’ right to vote, it was actually protecting them:

“That race showed how easily college students can be manipulated like pawns…These bills will protect students from such abuse.”

Poll tax via Wikipedia.

Poll tax via Wikipedia.

The idea that students are abusing themselves by voting, or that groups seeking to increase voter turnout are abusing students by encouraging them to vote, is laughable. It’s not a politician’s job, nor is it Mr. DeLancy’s, to determine who should and shouldn’t be permitted to vote.  And if we were to vitiate the vote of any voter we deem gullible, there wouldn’t be a lot of Republicans in office.

Moreover, to put it in terms Republicans can understand, it would seem that parents of North Carolina college students ought to be protected from the unnecessary and punitive tax increase they would face if their children dare to grow up and vote like functioning adults.

In any case, it appears that North Carolinians need to be protected from their government’s absurd, malicious attempts to raise their taxes at the expense of their ability to vote.

And the Republicans wonder why young people don’t vote for them.


Jon Green is a senior Political Science major and Public Policy concentrator at Kenyon College. He is also the co-editor in chief of the Kenyon Observer, the school's student-run political journal. Jon worked as a field organizer for Tom Perriello in 2010 and recently returned to AMERICAblog from the Obama campaign, where he was a Deputy Regional Field Director based in Hampton, Virginia. He writes on a variety of topics but pays particularly close attention to elections, political psychology and the use of social media. Jon on Google+, and his .

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  • guest

    Some of us college students make little to no money when we go to college, so of course their are parents who support their children. I am student teaching and making no money, your comment is so offensive and the law not you says who has the right to vote, and 18 year are allowed to vote and yes young people can do their research and know who they are voting for.

  • James Appenzeller

    Their tax bill goes up and the evidence shows democratic leaning voters will decrease. Pretty clear agenda.

    “but if mommy and daddy are still supporting them I’ll have to assume that they have very little idea of how the world really works and even less of an idea about what they’re really voting for”
    I guess college students should come to YOU first to determine if they’re allowed to vote.

  • Patrick

    This article is both funny and disturbing at the same time. I thought college kids were supposed to be smart. This isn’t a penalty/ new tax and it doesn’t prevent anyone from voting. It simply gets rid of the $2500 CREDIT that parents receive whenever their kids vote away from home. It’s not so much a poll tax as it is an end to the tax break that is given to parents who can afford to send their kids to college to begin with. I’m sure the author learned how to distinguish between the two in one of his political science courses and it simply slipped his mind while writing this article. Frankly, I’m sort of shocked that liberals are so opposed to paying a little more since these taxes ($140,000,000) fund the very programs that they all seem to be in favor of. It seems almost…hypocritical. Perhaps they aren’t as liberal as they think they are.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favor of an 18 year old kid putting their big boy, or girl, pants on and getting out there to vote, but if mommy and daddy are still supporting them I’ll have to assume that they have very little idea of how the world really works and even less of an idea about what they’re really voting for. In other words, the Democrat’s vision of an ideal voter. If the college students want to be “adults” then they can register wherever they please, but adults don’t live at home with their parents. Dependents do.

  • KennyF

    The GOP legislature in New Hampshire tried doing something similar before the 2012 election and it was stopped by a court injunction. If Republicans can’t win, they always try to change the rules…

  • stainpouch

    Oh, we should remember that, should we? Ever look at a map brain-wave boy? NC may be full of imbeciles but it’s not on the delta or the gulf coast. Some of the finest trout streams in the nation are found there. If you moved to NC then it would be even fuller of imbeciles.

  • stainpouch

    I’m not a big believer in the gomers from NC, but there’s nothing wrong with NC’s water. Some of the finest trout streams in the US run there. Now. With regard to your Mississippi delta assertion–well, George, you might look at a map sometime–perhaos before you make another stupid posting.

  • stainpouch

    No, NC better watch out. You just go on pretending that NC isn’t the political a__h_le of the nation, but the rest of us are tired of pretending that NC hasn’t spread division and hatred for the last 200 years.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jef.powers Jef Powers

    This comment is so misinformed it’s ridiculous. There’s not one portion of it that is remotely accurate.

  • eahopp

    If the GOP can’t stop the college students for voting with their poll tax, will they go back to the good old days of making young college students swing from the trees?

  • George Melby

    Yes, but you must remember… they’re a northern state with CLEAN natural water, not that cruddy stuff from the Mississippi delta or the Louisiana coast! Makes a big difference in one’s energy, health, and brain waves, lolol.

  • George Melby

    Mehhhhhhh… Scotty will lose no matter where he scurries to… a born loser, where normal people vote.

  • pappyvet

    The republicans will stop at nothing and rationalize anything to gain power. This is not their first attempt to take voting rights away from Americans and will not be their last. And since they are more than willing to lie,cheat and steal,what else are they willing to do ?

    Remember Ohio?
    The Republican spin was that Obama was trying to stop the 3 day voting for the Military. It was all over the web. It was all over Fox News. Romney brought it up in his stump speech. The GOP assumed the Military vote is theirs to preserve so lets limit others from voting for 3 days, in a state that was trending in Obama’s favor. They leave out mentioning the previous law of EVERYONE being able to vote in that 3 day period. They leave out that Obama’s law suit requested for Ohio to go back to using the previous law. The wingnuts were rending their garments with fake indignation. If they are willing to go that far, the sky is the limit in their minds.

  • George Melby

    Nothing the southern states do that is dirty, corrupt, and/or illegal surprises me anymore! Federal judges, appellate judges, circuit judges… get ready to block odious southern state anti-voting bills! The USA Courts and citizens have got to keep them honest!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/anita.h.phillips.5 Anita Henley Phillips

    They would not be defending this legislation. They would be sueing to STOP it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/anita.h.phillips.5 Anita Henley Phillips

    Absolutely insane. Take them to court.

  • http://profiles.google.com/wwoodrich Woody Woodrich

    I think there is a Supreme Court case that makes it clear that college students can register and vote in their college towns.

  • Mighty

    It is time for democrats to start fighting fire with fire. Start finding ways to turn the tables.

  • http://twitter.com/edumak8 BiBi

    NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING should stop a citizen’s right to vote! Registration should be simple, easy and readily available through many sources…and be cost free of course. Only a political Party scared of the voting public would wish to limit those able to particiapte in democratic elections. Show you take the responsibilty of voting seriously and speak out to stop such curtailing of your rights and freedoms.

  • labman57

    Republican legislators have not even attempted to hide their contempt for the democratic process. In true Machiavellian fashion, they have displayed a willingness to take an ideological dump on the fundamental principles of our democracy in order to further their political agenda.

    Since Republicans cannot count on the votes from key demographic sectors of the electorate, they have opted for a different approach — reduce the number of these citizens who are able to vote.

    And so they have strategized (and to some extent, implemented) a multi-pronged effort to curtail the ability of minority, student, and elderly voters to participate in the election process:

    1) Make it more difficult to “prove” your citizenship via voter ID legislation, fully aware that the elderly and socio-economically disenfranchised citizens will have a much more difficult time providing the narrowly-defined necessary documentation to verify their right to vote.

    - unlike voting, buying beer or boarding a commercial airliner are not constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

    2) Cull the registration database for names deemed to “probably” be fictitious or otherwise fraudulent. (Anyone whose surname ends in “-ez” is most certainly an invalid registrant …)

    3) Eliminate or drastically reduce early voting, since poor and elderly voters tend to have a more difficult time getting to the polls on the first Tuesday of November, and urban precincts are more likely to have extremely long lines that require you to stand for hours in line.

    4) Create modern equivalents of the poll tax (part of the old Jim Crow laws) wherein selected demographic groups must incur out-of-pocket expenses to retain the right to vote.

    However, the right wingers’ fallacious perception of progressive minority voters as lazy and shiftless parasites on society was part of their undoing — they assumed that if the voting process was made too difficult, then the affected members of the electorate would simply opt out of the process — this clearly did not occur in the 2012 elections.

    With respect to the voter ID legislation/registered voter purges that have been pushed forth by Republican-controlled state legislatures under the guise of reducing nonexistent “voter fraud”, GOP legislators should simply cut to the chase and proclaim that the only Americans who have a legitimate right to vote are those who are registered members of the Republican Party.

  • Mike_in_the_Tundra

    Gee, in Minnesota, things went the other way. Both houses and the governor flipped from Republican to Democrat.

  • Tar Heel

    And the GOP took over in NC in 2010 (and therefore redistricted to grab complete control in 2012) because of…. OBAMA and the idiot FEDERAL DEMOCRATS.

    Nowhere else has the pitifully contructed and marketed health care law caused such upheaval.

    The Democrats in NC were able to hold off the regressive forces for decades… right up until 2009 when the DLC-types and Obama dumped that dog in our laps. No one could defend it. No one can defend it.

    And the DLCers and Obama are doing it again by trying to cut Social Security.

    The rest of the country better watch out. What happened in NC is coming to your state soon courtesy of Obama and the DLC.

  • nicho

    That’s not true. Military personnel stationed away from home, esp. overseas, may vote absentee in their home states. However, those stationed in the US may also vote locally, if they so choose and declare the state where they are stationed as their place of residence.

  • Herald the Marksman

    Well, if the military has to vote based on where they live, college students should do the same. What’s good for one MUST be good for the other. Democrats love to make it hard for the military to vote because the military breaks for the Republicans. This will even it out. Simply make the same rules apply to college students that apply to military personnel and call it done.

  • Andrew Kiser

    I agree it has become really sad to live in North Carolina (born and raised here) to see all the stupid decisions being made because Hagan didn’t drop out the race soon enough for Dalton to have a chance to even campaign. Dem’s shooting themselves in the foot and now we are left with a mostly Rep government and makes me not watch the news much anymore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/randyariddle Randy Riddle

    It’s not a law yet, just a bill. If it does become law, I’m sure the ACLU will be right on it, wasting more NC tax dollars on defending stupid legislations.

  • nicho

    OT — Scott Brown, after getting his clock cleaned by Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts may be packing his snake oil into his carpet bags and trying to run for the senate from New Hampshire.

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2013/04/04/scott-brown-not-ruling-out-run-for-office-new-hampshire/gAg9ysqZiCb3QSHZ1f4lQN/story.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/elijah.shalis Elijah Shalis

    Why isn’t someone like the ACLU sueing to stop this in its tracks?

  • JustAnOldLady

    My state has become an embarrassment………..since the GOP took over a couple of months ago, they are trying to remove renewable energy incentives adopted several years ago, forge ahead on fracking in spite of concerns about polluting groundwater, proposed a bill that would allow to the state to establish an official religion and defy the Constitution of the United States, rejected $2 billion of Medicaid money annually which would have expanded health coverage to 500,000 in the state, introduced “The Healthy Marriage Act” (I swear it’s true!!) that would require a 2-year waiting period for getting a divorce…..the damage they have done already is stunning…………..

  • Hue-Man

    “…how easily college students can be manipulated like pawns…” Yeah, those uneducated, unintelligent, lazy college students unlike genius TeaParty/GOP voters.

  • confusion

    That ‘students have no rights’ ship has sailed here in mi long time ago.

  • Sally

    well, if you can’t win on issues, cheat. It’s the GOP modus operandi again and again and again.

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