Since 2011, Voter ID legislation has been passed in 17 states in order to change voter registration regulations. The legislation is intended to promote election reform, but many critics including reporters and experts say that the legislation is really a voter suppression effort in disguise. Critics rally that these measures are being put into place to suppress voter blocs that consistently vote Democrat.
Most states with voter-ID laws require citizens to present a simple photo-ID at the polls, but some states have more stringent measures in place that specifically affect students. Although many states such as Virginia go around this requirement by letting students at a college in that state use their student IDs as a valid form of identification at the polls, some states do not see student IDs as an acceptable form of identification.
In Wisconsin, South Carolina, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, student IDs are currently not acceptable forms of identification at the polls. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, your registration can also be challenged by other registered voters and poll workers in these states, even if you are voting absentee in those states. They also do not accept letters of proof of residency if you live in a dorm.
In Pennsylvania, student IDs are accepted, but only if you go to certain universities.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), University of Pennsylvania student IDs are acceptable ID because they include an expiration date. Meanwhile, students who go to Drexel, Pennsylvania State, Park Point University, and LaSalle cannot use their student IDs as valid proof of identification because they do not include a required expiration date.
Texas also recently passed a voter ID law that will disenfranchise many students at the polls because they will longer allow student IDs to be successful forms of identification at the polls. Many states also require you to update your driver’s license if you register to vote in that state because registering to vote signifies that you are a resident.
We as students in the District of Columbia are very fortunate that we do not have to update our drivers’ licenses or show ID at the polls at all. In the District of Columbia, students are not obligated to update their driver’s license or any other status identifier that goes along with residency. The District of Columbia also has same-day voter registration where you can register to vote on Election Day.
The only thing students have to make sure of is that they don’t vote twice. For example, you cannot vote twice in both states in the same election. DC is very favorable to students voting, and as a constituency that makes up 10 percent of the District’s overall population, it’s hard not to take advantage of a place that is open to a student voice.