Members of Congress Worry That Students Are Being Misled About Voting Rights

September 24, 2008

Washington — The House majority leader, Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, and several of his Democratic colleagues said today at a news conference that they were concerned about ensuring access to the polls for the estimated 44 million eligible voters who are between the ages of 18 and 29.

The news conference came a day before a Congressional hearing on student voting rights and hours after a Republican county clerk in Colorado was criticized for falsely stating that students could not register to vote in Colorado if their parents had claimed them as dependents in another state. The clerk now says he was wrong, but the state’s Democratic Party chairwoman said the incorrect information had been posted on the Web site of Colorado College for the past six months.

Today’s news conference was co-sponsored by the Student Association for Voter Empowerment and People for the American Way. At the event, People for the American Way officials outlined their strategy to focus on 15 swing states, including Colorado, that have reported problems with student voting in the past. The group will distribute state-specific voter-information booklets to community leaders and pocket-size pamphlets to help voters navigate each state’s regulations on everything from registering to obtaining an absentee ballot.

The Congressional hearing, to be held on Thursday afternoon by the House of Representatives’ Committee on House Administration, will deal with student voting rights. Witnesses from Oberlin College, Virginia’s voter registry, and student groups are expected to testify. —Reeves Wiedeman