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Student voting seems like the next item on the Republican Party’s hit list.
Last month, Republican legislators turned Idaho into the sixth state in which student ID cards do not qualify as a form of voter identification. In Texas, a Republican lawmaker has proposed eliminating all polling places on school campuses, citing safety concerns relating to the Uvalde school shooting — even though that attack had no relation to voting.
While many of these initiatives to hinder young voters have been unsuccessful, we are alarmed by the lengths the Republican Party is willing to go to undermine American democracy.
Campus voting obstacles are only the tip of the greater iceberg of voting restrictions. Between January and September of last year, seven states passed a total of 10 laws that make it harder to vote — the second highest number of such laws enacted in any year in the last decade. These laws prohibit mail-in drop boxes for ballots, induce voter database purges without notifying affected voters, and impede unhoused people and those living on tribal lands from exercising their right to vote.
The justification for such legislation — voter fraud — is at best a strawman. Voter fraud would be concerning if it were happening as much as peddlers of this argument would like to believe. Instead, an investigation by the Associated Press found fewer than 475 cases of voter fraud out of the 25.5 million 2020 presidential ballots cast in the six battleground states disputed by former President Donald Trump. Furthermore, it’s unclear that stringent voting laws would reduce this rare occurrence.
Instead, we believe Republican lawmakers pushing voter restrictions are simply attempting to normalize their attack on American democratic progress. The party fearmongers about non-white immigrants ‘replacing’ white Americans, when these diverse populations in fact constitute the modern American people. Its legislators ban literature and scholarship wrestling with our nation’s history, suggesting that America has always been great and does not need to improve.
Landmarks of modern American progress are crushed under the Republican Party, which provides no way forward. The party’s response to gun violence is not gun control, but the perverse exploitation of these tragedies and grieving families to justify wildly unrelated voter suppression bills at schools.
The Republican Party targets college students like us, not only because young voters lean Democratic, but also because we necessarily care about the future. Our lives are at stake — not those of senior lawmakers — in the case of future catastrophe as a result of climate mismanagement or gun violence or systemic racism. Our drive to build a better future clashes with the Republican Party’s desire to keep America in inequitable stasis.
Democratic backslides happen slowly and then all at once. We’re lucky to be in the slow stage right now, with several Republican-led voter suppression initiatives floundering. But without actively rejecting and organizing against these efforts, we risk the Republican Party sliding into fascism. One moment, it’s small-scale campus voting obstacles — the next, it’s the Jan. 6 insurrection.
The Republican Party knows how powerful young people are; that’s why they’re working to suppress us. We must band together to call for change. As voting is threatened in peer institutions around the country, Harvard should work to become a model campus for voting rights, supporting groups like Harvard Votes Challenge and making election day a University holiday.
The attempts made by Republicans to restrict voting on campuses serve only to undermine American democracy. The whole situation reeks of Machiavelli — and to be clear, Machiavelli stinks. We should leave him in the past where the Republican Party stalls, and seize the future of progress for ourselves.
This staff editorial solely represents the majority view of The Crimson Editorial Board. It is the product of discussions at regular Editorial Board meetings. In order to ensure the impartiality of our journalism, Crimson editors who choose to opine and vote at these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on similar topics.
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