In November, Republicans won complete control of government in North Carolina. They have the governorship, veto-proof majorities in both legislative chambers and control of the elected Supreme Court. Now North Carolina Republicans have set about the business of using their new majority to maintain their majority.
Using means now familiar in other states, North Carolina Republicans are proposing several ways of making it harder to vote. But one of the tactics is new to me. Republican State Senator Bill Cook wants to make voting harder for college students in particular, and to do that, he's pushing a bill that ties students' voter registration to their parents' taxes. If the student registers to vote at their college address, the parents would get a tax hike. They could no longer claim the student as a dependent, so the family pays more in taxes.
The local offshoot of the Tea Party poll-watch group True the Vote sounds excited about the prospects. The local Beaufort Observer quotes this statement from the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina:
We've gotten a bill into the Senate that Progressives are going to hate almost more than they hate Voter ID.
If other states pick up this legislation, it will shift the landscape of college town voting all across the nation and may even put "college states" like Massachusetts back into play because so many students use the same-day registration rules to vote in that state.
Here's the thing: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled back in 1979 that college students have the right to register and vote where they go to school. What North Carolina Republicans are proposing to do, then, essentially requires a student's parents to pay more if the student exercises that right.
Back in February, an Indiana Republican proposed revoking the right for students to register at their colleges. After college Democrats and Republicans in Indiana joined in pushing back, the sponsor promised to amend her bill so that it would be constitutional, by which she meant dropping the idea.
For now, North Carolina Republicans are going for it. Cook sent around a statement saying that his ideas will be appreciated by anyone who considers voting "a sacred duty." Also, he says, the proposals will save money. In addition to making families pay more if their students vote at school, Cook and his Republican colleagues want to cut early voting nearly in half and reduce the number of places for early voting to one, which is a recipe for longer lines. They want to eliminate all voting on Sundays, and no longer allow you to both register and vote on Election Day. They want to require new ID you never had to show before and that thousands of people do not have (the former Democratic governor vetoed the proposal in 2011).