Today House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, House Administration Committee Ranking Member Bob Brady and House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers convened a meeting of Members and representatives from youth, student, and voting organizations. The discussion focused on the escalating attempts to prevent students and young people from casting ballots this November. In state legislatures across the country, there has been a significant rise in laws designed to hinder access to the ballot for students, minorities, seniors and other groups. If nothing is done about these new restrictions, thousands of those eligible young voters will be turned away from the polls.
Whip Hoyer and Reps. Brady and Conyers convened the meeting, which was held on Capitol Hill, at the request of OUR TIME, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement. Other organizations participating in the meeting included: Hillel, Campus Progress, Rock the Vote, Politics 365, the Advancement Project, the National Campus Leadership Council, and others.
Students and organizations representing students shared their own stories with Members during the meeting
"We need to make sure every ballot is counted and every voice is heard this November, from students to seniors," said Whip Hoyer. "However, a slew of proposed laws around the country would make it harder for students to vote, especially those who travel out of state to attend school. Today, I was pleased to meet with these groups and to hear directly from students who face potential barriers to the ballot this fall. The right to vote is the most powerful guarantor of our liberty and I am proud to work with my fellow Democrats to ensure that every eligible student is able to vote this Fall."
"It's no coincidence that young people played an important role in the last election, and now Republican controlled legislatures are making it harder for them to do it again," said Rep. Brady. "We should be encouraging a new generation to vote, not discouraging and disenfranchising them."
"When Congress passed the 26th Amendment to the Constitution, we enshrined the right for every young American citizen to vote, but some states have created barriers against young people voicing their vote in our democracy," said Rep. Conyers. "Voter ID laws or other infringements on the right to vote run contrary to our Constitution and Congress' obligation to protect the franchise."
Nineteen states across the country have passed laws that restrict voters' access to the polls. Many of these laws specifically target students and make it more difficult for students to vote. These laws include strict voter ID laws which don't allow student IDs as an acceptable form of identification, as well as strict residency requirements. An anti-voter law that passed in Wisconsin earlier this year increased the time period a citizen must live in one location in order to register there from ten days to 28 consecutive days. Hundreds of students who had returned to their parents' homes following the end of the school year reported problems voting during Wisconsin's recall election this June."