|I try to always keep in tune with what North Carolina politicians are doing in Raleigh, but rarely do I ever feel personally attacked by a single piece of legislation. It is common knowledge that the General Assembly, specifically many Republicans, are attempting to curb the way North Carolinians vote. Among the proposed election bills to reduce early voting, eliminate same-day registration, and the infamous Voter ID dispute comes Senate Bill 667.
This bill titled “Equalize Voter Rights” targets college students. It reads, “if the voter is a dependent of the voter’s parent or legal guardian, is 18 years of age or older, and the voter has registered at an address other than that of the parent or legal guardian, the parent or legal guardian will not be allowed to claim the voter as a dependent for State income tax purposes.” In other words, my parents and the majority of parents in North Carolina will be subject to $2500 that they are otherwise exempt from paying, if my peers or I register to vote at our college residency.
For the first time I realized that I was reading legislation that would directly hurt me, a college student registered to vote at my college. I decided to give some of the bill’s sponsors a call, and on the first call, I reached was Senator Norman Sanderson’s legislative assistant. After expressing my disapproval of Senate Bill 667, she went on to tell me that rights are not guaranteed and that “college kids from around the state and even out of state are hurting local municipalities.”
Obviously, the next most logical step in proving my argument was to call the mayor of Chapel Hill, Mark Kleinschmidt, to ask him if the college vote was actually endangering the city. Not so much. He told me that “anyone who says that is lying to me, and they need to check their sources.” But, to be fair I called Norwood, NC, a small town in Stanly County with just over 2,000 citizens. The mayor, Beverly Johnson, told me she “wished they had a college; it would bring a little energy to the place.”
Senator Bill Cook, a Republican from the 1st Senatorial District, is a primary sponsor of this bill. He won the 2012 election by only 21 votes, using a theme of, “Tax reduction will require courage and fortitude in the face of all the short sighted special interest groups clamoring for money from state funds…We can do this if we have the heart.” Senator Bill Cook, however, only won those 21 extra votes because of these “short sighted special interest groups” he speaks of. In fact, according to the Institute for Southern Studies Cook has received at least $104,836.47 from Art Pope and his family’s conservative special interest groups.
If the sponsors of this bill feel that college students hurt local elections, why doesn’t the bill mention out-of-state students? Our state was ranked third among the best states for business by Forbes. One of the main reasons for that are our prestigious universities building strong students of every field. College students and their parents need to realize that this actually affects us. The General Assembly is taking North Carolina backwards. Join me in saying Senate Bill 667 needs to be stopped.
Dylan Frick is the President of the NC Teen Democrats, an SEC Member in the NC Democratic Party, Secretary of the College of Charleston Democrats.