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Study: Universities Fail to Aid Voter Registration Nationwide

A study released by Harvard University on Monday has found that more than one-third of college and universities do not comply with a federal law that requires them to assist students in registering to vote. The study found that only 17 percent of the schools surveyed were in complete compliance with the 1998 Higher Education Act, which mandates them to make a substantial effort to provide students with voter registration materials, reports the Los Angeles Times. Americans between the ages of 18-24 have the lowest rate of turnout in elections among various age groups. In swing states, where the LA Times reports that students often represent more than one percent of the population, this group has the potential to determine the election’s outcome. Some students, in addition to not receiving federally mandated assistance from their university, have encountered additional challenges from local officials in registering to vote. The Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) recently reported that students in Arizona, working in conjunction with FMF’s Get Out HER Vote campaign, had been receiving erroneous information about voter eligibility in their state. FMF subsequently demanded press release that the Pima County Registrar’s Office and the Secretary of State correct erroneous statements made by the County Registrar’s spokesperson on Fox News. The spokesperson had wrongly stated that out-of-state students who do not plan on staying in Arizona after graduation were not eligible to register and vote. FMF also requested that a correction be run by the Fox-11 News at Nine reporter, Natalie Tejeda, who suggested that students were committing an “unintentional felony” by registering out-of-state students. According to Arizona and national voting rights attorneys engaged by the Feminist Majority Foundation, the United States Supreme Court (US v Symm) expressly ruled that college communities must allow students to register to vote where they attend school. Additionally, the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970 specifically prohibit states from establishing “durational residency” requirements, meaning the student cannot be required to demonstrate an intent to remain in the state after graduating. LEARN MORE about the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Get Out Her Vote campaign DONATE to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Get Out Her Vote campaign

Sources:

Los Angeles Times 9/14/04; Feminist News 9/9/04