Students’ voices will be silenced under disenfranchising legislation

Students’ voices will be silenced under disenfranchising legislation

Disenfranchisement is the death of democracy. Four bills moving through the Missouri General Assembly could lead to the loss of voting privileges by cutting off accessibility, and it will cause the direct disenfranchisement of many.

Should the legislation pass, registered voters who do not have Missouri-issued IDs cannot vote in elections held in the state. This affects many out-of-state college students; 1,509 of them are registered at Saint Louis University.

Many of us will be able to vote in the 2012 Presidential Election and in local and representative elections – the requirement of an ID will deter many of us from voting and disenfranchise some of us altogether. This is unacceptable.

First, it is hard enough getting students at the voting polls despite SLU being a polling location and students not needing IDs beyond their SLU IDs.

With the additional process of having to visit the Department of Motor Vehicles, filling out forms and paying extra fees, students will be even less likely to vote.

On top of all that, one is required to have a permanent address in Missouri to even register for a Missouri ID. Thus, all students who live on-campus and have SLU mailboxes cannot access the IDs issued by the DMV.

For them, the choice to live on campus at any point in the years they spend here is a direct loss of their ballot and their voice. For SLU, that is every single registered freshman or sophomore, as well as some upperclassmen.

Absentee ballots are still possible, but those are often counted last in the election process, and in the event of an overwhelming majority for a candidate, they are often not counted at all.

Our voices need to count. This is disenfranchisement through the unavailability of both access and power. It is the loss of voices in the democratic process.

We cannot lose face in these trying times. We do not want to lose our votes. We want to see Missouri be open to the voices of those who decide to get an education here, to pay taxes and enjoy the benefits the state gives.

Many of us see Missouri as our home. We are still active citizens who engage in multitude of activities that is the lifeblood of any society.

We encourage the Missouri legislators to see past the faces plastered on plastic to the proud citizens beyond.