More Voter Suppression in Ohio

Republicans continue their utterly shameless campaign to make voting as difficult as possible for anyone who isn’t likely to vote for them. In Ohio, they’re trying to pass a bill that would punish schools that help students register and vote at the university rather than where they come from.

Now Republicans in Ohio have come up with a new approach. In Ohio, eight of the 14 public universities routinely provide students with documents that make it possible for them to register to vote at school. But in the state House, Republicans are pushing a budget amendment (pdf) requiring schools that issue those documents to charge the student only in-state tuition, even if the student otherwise would pay the higher out-of-state rate. Under Ohio’s scheme, the student votes and the school gets punished…

Ohio universities say that lowering the tuition for everyone who wants to use their right to vote at school would cost the system $370 million a year.

There is one and only one possible purpose to this bill, which is to make it more difficult for college students to vote. Why? Because they tend to vote Democratic. There is no level below which they will not stoop.

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  • jameshanley

    I’m actually a little sympathetic to this one. In the U.S. it’s not normal for people to vote outside the state of their legal residence. I spent a year working in Illinois, while still a legal resident of Michigan. My car was Michigan registered, my driver’s license was from Michigan, and my official home address was in Michigan. It was appropriate for me to vote in Michigan, but not in Illinois.

    So I don’t think it’s really inappropriate for a state legislature to say that if a person’s going to vote in their state then they have to be treated as a resident. Otherwise they’re a resident for purposes of voting, but not for other purposes, and that can get messy really quickly.

  • slc1

    Re James Hanley @ #1

    As a graduate student at the Un. of Rochester in Upstate New York, i retained my California drivers license and car registration and voted by absentee ballot in California. However, since the school is private, the issue of legal residence as far as tuition charges was concerned was not relevant.

  • psweet

    Given that ultimately the state’s in charge of residency requirements for both voting and tuition, it seems to me it’s the state’s responsibility to match those two sets of requirements, rather than penalizing the school for providing documents that enable the student to demonstrate that they fit one set.

    In other words, if they want students who are legally allowed to vote, by the state’s own standards, to pay in-state tuition, then they should pass a law that sets tuition requirements that match voting requirements. (They won’t do that, I suspect, because the state actually pays the school for every in-state student.)

  • atheist

    How disgusting.

  • raven

    Similar bills have been proposed in New Hampshire and North Carolina. Probably more states as well.

    The right wingers get their legislation from the same sources.

    And it is pure voter suppression. They don’t much care for democracy.

  • raven

    It’s actually rather vicious. Not that the right wingers care.

    Out of state students are a valuable resource. They pay full cost and this makes it cheaper for the in state students and tax payers in the long run. Because there are marked economies of scale in running a university.

    Most universities are happy to get as many as they can and some go to great lengths to get them.

  • laurentweppe

    There is no level below which they will not stoop.

    They’ve yet to start throwing phosphorus and chemical bombs toward neighbourhood where they obtain shitty scores.

    Then again, There may already be some “strategists” thinking about it.

  • slc1

    Re raven @ #6

    In fact, in Virginia, out of state students are given preference for admission over instate students at UVA and VPU, the two prestigious universities in the state.

  • “There is no level below which they will not stoop.”

    Oh, please! They wouldn’t have to do this if these students would grow up and vote for the Republicans already!


    raven “They don’t much care for democracy.”

    No, they love democracy so much that they’re willing to step in and save it from the citizenry that’s so insistent on ruining it by voting. That’s patriotism on a level so high, that if there was a bottle of ketchup on it you wouldn’t even be able to reach it.

  • dogmeat


    I would argue that the issue is whether you can maintain your home state residency rather than whether you should be able register to vote in your temporary state of residence. I know it was a significant issue in the military because people could (and did) claim residency in states they never actually lived in to avoid paying taxes. I don’t know if they did so for taxes but maintained their home residency to vote or voted in the state where their duty station was. While I was in the military I voted absentee ballot, but if I had chosen to do so, I could have registered and voted in IL, VA, and HI.

    Is Ohio looking to try to charge military personnel or the military for their employees who register and vote in the state? (rhetorical and sarcastic question, no need to answer)

    I’m thinking that the $370 million figure is a bit of fear-mongering except it would be a logical way to avoid paying out-of-state tuition. Register to vote and cut your tuition. This law could actually work against the Republicans in the state legislature. If word got out that it worked this way, the universities wouldn’t have to promote or provide any assistance, heck, they could (and would) be 100% against students registering to vote, but only the dumbest of the dumb would avoid registering if it saved them tens of thousands of dollars.

  • raven

    I would argue that the issue is whether you can maintain your home state residency rather than whether you should be able register to vote in your temporary state of residence.

    It is not at all sure, being an out of state student is a temporary state of residency.

    There is nothing to say that a student will move back to where they came from when they graduate. Most likely they will go to whatever state they get a job in.

    People move a lot in the USA for various reasons and educated professionals move even more.

  • jameshanley

    I’m not saying there’s not a better way, and I’m not even saying it’s not motivated by pure partisan politics. I’m just saying it’s reasonable to not let non-residents vote.

    I know we’re all locked into our automatic hatred of Republicans here, but let’s not become like them and forget how to think.

  • keljopy

    The problem with not allowing students to vote at school (even if they are non-residents in terms of in-state/out-of-state tuition) is that for many this is the first time they are old enough to vote and most places you have to either register to vote in person or your first time voting must be in person. If their permanent residence is far from your school residence and they didn’t register to vote before coming to school, they may not be able to get back “home” to register and/or vote.

    The problem is that students and their tuition are a special category. I know for tax purposes if you spend 183 days/nights in Ohio you are considered a resident, but when it comes to tuition, most places make you establish residency a certain amount of time before starting school to be allowed to qualify for in-state tuition. Every state has it’s own definitions of residency and those definitions also often differ depending on if you are talking about taxes, in-state tuition, voting (which is itself sometimes used to determine residency for things like taxes), etc.

    While it may be “reasonable” to not let non-residents vote, students may be residents by most definitions (physical presence, drivers license, voting) and still not get in-state tuition because that residence wasn’t established before they started school. So this isn’t about whether non-residents should be able to vote somewhere, its about whether schools should be able to maintain out-of-state student status for someone once they have become a registered voter there, which is stupid because if you did that, students could all just register to vote wherever they decided to go to school and immediately have in-state tuition and there’d be no such thing as out-of-state tuition anymore, which means tuition would have to be more expensive for everyone in-state or taxpayers would have to give more money to the school.

  • D. C. Sessions

    when it comes to tuition, most places make you establish residency a certain amount of time before starting school to be allowed to qualify for in-state tuition.

    Putting it mildly. Once upon a time (I was a junior) the University of Arizona challenged my residency status.

    Given that I was born in Arizona, attended K-12 in Arizona, followed by the Uof A, with both parents residents of Arizona and employed there since the 40s and with all of my rather short work history in Arizona … and they still had their doubts as to whether I qualified for in-state tuition.

  • WTF?

    This is about registering to vote in national elections, not local elections, unless I’m misreading the Maddowblog post.

    How can it make any difference where someone is allowed to REGISTER to vote, assuming that there is no fraudulent practice involved? Really, why is this even an issue?

    Nobody would suggest that U.S. military personnel in a combat zone who are register to vote in their “home state*” are not eligible for combat zone pay and benefits? Well, they wouldn’t have until I gave some scumbag reptilican lurker the idea. Damn, why can’t I just learn to keep my fingers wrapped around my flintlock until they’re cold and dead!

    * Several states I’ve lived in do not require students who domicile with their parents during school breaks (out-of-state tuition payers) to re-register autos or get new drivers licenses while they attend a school)