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Expanding and Encouraging Student Voting

Since this is a redistricting year many localities choose now to change polling locations. When they do change it should be to make voting easier, no matter what political persuasion a school or community might have. If a university has enough registered voters to warrant a polling location then it should have one --- It is a simple as that.

In 2008, Virginia became ground zero over the fight for student voting rights. Many registrars in college towns were spreading false information about a students right to vote. This was largely due to the fact that the Virginia General Assembly had not formalized a position on residency with regard to voting. While there has been some improvement on this issue in recent years, Virginia still has no clearly defined position on student voting. This issue can be seen in the recent battles over polling locations.

In Lynchburg, Liberty University, with a large out-of-state population has strongly encouraged students to vote. They have even given students the day off from class on Election Day. Recently, school officials were able to successfully add a special polling location strictly for Liberty students. Given Liberty’s conservative record this will likely aid Republicans in future elections. However, the Lynchburg City Council did not argue over the political bent of this precinct. Instead, Councilman Michael Gillette said “he felt the only important consideration in this matter should be making changes that were logical and in the best interests of the city’s voting system as a whole”.

In Fairfax County, there was a similar issue at George Mason University. Chairman Sharon Bulova asked county staff to consider a new precinct at the University, a request that has been made for years. Immediately Supervisors John Cook and Pat Herrity, both republicans, claimed that the request was political. George Mason University is not known for any extreme political bent and even George Mason politics professor Michael McDonald stated, “GMU's student body is very diverse politically".



Sources:

http://www2.newsadvance.com/news/2011/jun/09/liberty-polling-place-gets-...
http://www2.wsls.com/news/2011/jun/14/lu-polling-place-takes-city-counci...
http://washingtonexaminer.com/local/virginia/2011/05/debate-over-gmu-vot...

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March 17-19, 2017
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