Students paying premium out-of-state tuition rates at Indiana’s public universities would be barred from voting in Indiana if a Martinsville Republican has her way.
House Bill 1311 is a blatant effort to disenfranchise young voters likely to vote for Democrats. It also is unconstitutional.
HB 1311 is an ill-conceived piece of legislation that violates equal protection guarantees in our state and federal constitutions by treating one group of residents differently than another group based solely on whether a resident pays out-of-state tuition, said Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloom- ington. Standards for residency and paying out-of-state tuition are completely separate matters. Our state universities have spent decades honing their tuition rules to prevent anyone who has spent time out of the state from paying in-state rates. At IU, if one moves to the state and lives here for a year and then applies to attend the university, he or she must pay out-of-state tuition unless the student can prove he or she did not come to the state for the purpose of getting an education.
Peggy Mayfield, a Martinsville Republican, is the bill’s author. She doesn’t deny that it’s an attempt to keep outsiders from lawfully participating in the electoral process.
We’re having people who are not necessarily residents voting in our elections, she told the Indianapolis Star.
But that doesn’t appear to be the case in Tippecanoe County, home to Purdue University.
I don’t remember ever having to challenge on the registration status for Purdue students – and I certainly don’t want to encourage that, County Clerk Christa Coffey told the Lafayette Journal Courier. And yes, we do encourage them to register and be involved in this community.
At IU, students on both sides of the political aisle are opposed to the bill. Daniel Cheesman, president of IU College Republicans, told the Indiana Daily Student the bill was not partisan, but a student rights issue. Pierce, an attorney, noted that the bill would treat students at public and private universities differently.
Out-of-state students attending private colleges would be eligible for full voting rights because there is no tuition differential based on residency at private schools, he said.
This is just one more example of the disturbing trend of the Republican Party doing all it can to rig elections in its favor that began with the voter ID law, Pierce said.
The House Elections and Apportionment Committee heard heated testimony on the bill last week. Chairman Milo Smith said he was holding it for a week so amendments can be made.
There is no way to fix legislation designed to keep voters from the polls.