U.S. Senate passes bill requiring proof of residency for new voters

    In response to issues raised after the 2000 presidential election, the U.S. Senate passed a bill April 11 that would force first-time voters to show proof of local residency.

    The bill requires that first-time voters provide a valid form of identification with the voter’s address on it. Under the new bill, first-time voters will only be allowed to vote in the district that their identification says they live in.

    Because many college students maintain a permanent address different than their address at school, this could prevent first-time student voters from participating in local elections near their university.

    Students can still vote via absentee ballot in their home elections.

    Ayame Nagatani, a freshman at Eleanor Roosevelt College, said an ID requirement is ultimately detrimental to increasing voter turnout.

    “”People aren’t really going to want to go through the process of having to change [their address],”” she said. “”There are going to be less people voting, I think, because it is going to be more of a hassle.””

    David Chung, a freshman at Thurgood Marshall College, said he felt more strongly about the new requirements.

    “”I feel that since we do live within the San Diego region, and we are residents, … spend most of our time here, … [and deal] with issues immediately here, we should still have the ability to vote,”” Chung said. “”[The bill] violates our fundamental rights to be active in the community. It limits us because we have no say. We can’t be political in the area where we live.””

    A.S. Vice President External Steve Klass lobbied against the bill. His office brings local issues to a national forum.

    “”What it is is a representative of the campus off-campus,”” Klass said of the external office.

    The office is also a resource for on-campus organizations that want to branch out from the university, according to Klass.

    “”But also, in more general terms, bringing all this back to the organizations on campus and making sure they are all connected,”” he said.

    This year, Klass has served as the national affairs director for USSA. His job was to meet with students from different campuses to get a sense of the important issues on each campus.

    “”We work with them on their campus to see how to solve their problem,”” Klass said. “”Beginning with students in Wisconsin, where they lost their ability to control their student fees — the same thing happened here in California — and we have to try and find out how to fight that.””

    The United States Students Association, a student-lobbying group founded in 1947, lobbied against the bill because of what it perceives as a discriminatory requirement. UCSD students, particularly through the A.S. Office of External Affairs, were involved in the lobbying campaign.

    In the broader scope of USSA’s campaigns, Klass anticipates the issue of electoral reform to move to the state level.

    “”There are a lot of pressing issues that came up after 9-11 that drew focus away from the other campaigns, because all the campaigns were chosen pre-September,”” he said.

    Since then, issues such as electoral reform, welfare reform and racial profiling have not been given the complete scope of A.S. Council resources.

    Klass and the external office will work to register students to vote in the upcoming gubernatorial election.

    He said that future lobbying for electoral reform will now be focused at the state level.

    “”If anything is going to be done on electoral reform rather than on standard voter registration drive, it’s going to be centered around making sure that students’ voices are heard on the state level,”” Klass said.

    California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein voted for the bill.

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