Voter-ID Laws Hurt Young People, Too

Cord Jefferson writes at BET News that we shouldn't turn a blind eye toward suppression efforts aimed at younger voters.

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University of North Carolina sophomore registers to vote.
(Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images)

Cord Jefferson writes at BET News that we shouldn't turn a blind eye toward suppression efforts aimed at younger voters.

The study, titled "Turning Back the Clock on Voting Rights: The Impact of New Photo Identification Requirements on Young People of Color" [PDF], co-authored by University of Chicago political science professor Cathy Cohen, is an in-depth look at what codified disenfranchisement could mean for minority young people. The results, while not surprising, are saddening:

Our estimates indicate that overall levels of turnout among young people of color are likely to be reduced by large numbers -- between 538,000 and 696,000 in total -- in the states that have passed these laws, perhaps falling below 2004 and 2008 levels.

Exacerbating the fact that almost 700,000 young voters of color, the majority of whom would almost certainly vote for Obama, could be barred from polling places is that the researchers say the laws would be significantly damaging in "battleground" states such as Pennsylvania and Florida, where the race is tight and the electoral college votes are crucial.

It's important to develop a habit of voting at an early age. But when society puts laws in front of kids barring them from voting, what sort of message are we sending about their worth when it comes participating in democracy?

Read Cord Jefferson's entire piece at BET News.

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