Voting Rights Press Release

04.24.13

ACLU Blasts Budget Amendment Restricting Student Voting Rights

Senate Finance Committee Should Eliminate Such a Blatant Attempt to Make Voting More Difficult

COLUMBUS, OH – The ACLU of Ohio is calling on the Ohio General Assembly’s Senate Finance Committee to eliminate a controversial amendment to the Ohio budget bill (HB 59) designed to make it more difficult for students to vote in their college communities. The language would require public colleges and universities to charge in-state tuition to any student given a utility bill, letter or any other proof of residency for voter ID purposes.

“Partisan politicians know it’s perfectly legal for out-of-state students to vote in the state where they attend college, but that doesn’t mean they like it,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “They can’t legally stop the students from voting, so instead they employ a political tactic designed to make it costlier and more difficult for schools to help them.”

“Politicians also know that public universities can’t afford to stop charging out-of-state tuition,” added Link. “Their hope is that these schools will feel financially pressured into doing their dirty work for them.”

The U.S. Supreme Court case Symm v. United States held that discrimination against college students seeking to vote in their college communities is unconstitutional. This is one of the reasons why the definition of residency for voting purposes and tuition purposes is intentionally different in Ohio.

“This amendment strikes out at these residency definitions,” said Link. “If passed, it would leave Ohio schools with a choice: make it more difficult for students to vote or see their funding eviscerated. This is not an accident; it’s a political tactic.”

The amendment is just one of several controversial additions to HB 59, prompting concern about the way in which some lawmakers are conducting business during the lengthy budget process.

“Some legislators are trying to sneak through controversial legislation that they haven’t been able to get passed as stand alone bills,” said Link. “It’s unfortunate that budget season in Ohio has come to be known for these kinds of legislative shenanigans.”