Students could face challenges because of Voter ID Laws

James Vaughn

Some USI students may face challenges at the voting polls if they are unaware of Indiana’s Voter ID Law, which requires student IDs being used to vote to meet the same criteria as any other government issued ID.

The photo ID must list the voter’s name and an expiration date. Student IDs from public colleges and universities are acceptable if they meet that criteria. USI’s Eagle Access Cards are not eligible because it doesn’t meet the specified requirements, but Indiana University, Ball State University, Indiana State University and do. Purdue does not.

In Oct. 2008, the faculty senate at USI proposed an expiration date be added to student IDs when Associate Professor of Online Journalism Chad Tew noticed the struggles students were facing during the 2008 election.

Tew said it was a unanimous decision by the senate.

They voted to send the recommendation to the Student Affairs Committee at USI.

In April 2009, the Student Affairs Committee came back to the senate with a report – the proposal was accepted.

At that time, the senate made the official recommendation to the administration. In Aug. 2009, the senate reviewed the proposal. That meeting was the last time it was discussed.

“It never happened,” Tew said. “I don’t know how it never happened. There is no rule that says the administration has to tell us why.”

It was every intention of the senate to help students out, he said.

Students are often voting for the first time and studies have shown that people who vote early on continue to vote throughout their life, he said.

“The state shouldn’t be putting these huge obstacles in front of any educated individual, especially students, and the university shouldn’t be contributing to those obstacles,” Tew said.

Sophomore criminal justice major Tyler Gunter plans on voting at home in Spencer County, meaning he will have to present his driver’s license at the polls. Luckily he has a form of ID that meets the requirements.

“I think our student IDs should have an expiration date,” Gunter said. “College kids are obviously not going to be in school forever, so why not?”

Regardless, student IDs should be qualified to use for voting, he said.

“Everyone should have the chance to decide who they want (in office) over the other,” Gunter said.

He knows a couple of people who do not have a driver’s license or state-issued ID, and he’s been wondering how they are going vote.

Indiana University’s student IDs meet the state’s requirements.

Russell Hanson, Chair of the Political Science Department at IU, said though student ID’s at IU meet the requirements, the larger issue is whether the state should require voter ID in the first place.

There is almost no real evidence of fraudulent voting on Election Day, let alone that fraudulent voting has affected the outcome of elections, he said.

Voter ID laws will disenfranchise many who ought to be eligible to vote, including students living away from home and elderly people who no longer possess valid Driver’s Licenses, or the poor who cannot afford one, he said.

“Legitimate voters are denied the right to participate in the selection of their representatives,” Hanson said. “Evidence shows that voter ID laws solve problems that don’t exist.”