The widespread practice of students’ registering to vote at their college address has set off a fracas in Virginia, a battleground state in the presidential election.
Late last month, as a voter-registration drive by supporters of Senator Barack Obama was signing up thousands of students at Virginia Tech, the local registrar of elections issued two releases incorrectly suggesting a range of dire possibilities for students who registered to vote at their college.
The releases warned that such students could no longer be claimed as dependents on their parents’ tax returns, a statement the Internal Revenue Service says is incorrect, and could lose scholarships or coverage under their parents’ car and health insurance.
After some inquiries from students and parents, and more pointed questions from civil rights lawyers, the state board of elections said Friday that it was “modifying and clarifying” the state guidelines on which the county registrar had based his releases.
Student-registration controversies have been a recurring problem since 1971, when the 26st Amendment lowered the voting age to 18 from 21, and despite a 1979 ruling by the United States Supreme Court that students have the right to register at their college address
Now that we are into our own fall semester national election, could we be due for post-secondary student voter fracases as well?