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Rep. Smith: Transportation budget no place for attack on student voting rights

March 26, 2015
Kent Smith News

Rep. Smith: Transportation budget no place for attack on student voting rights

COLUMBUS– Today the Ohio House voted to approve the final version of the state’s transportation budget. The $7 billion bill, which largely funds Ohio’s infrastructure projects over the next two fiscal years, was initially passed in the House with bipartisan support but drew criticism from Democratic lawmakers after a student voter suppression provision was inserted during Senate deliberations.

“I initially supported the transportation budget alongside every member of the Ohio House. This attack on student voting rights was added by the Ohio Senate, and I cannot and will not stand by without raising my voice. We need to be about the serious work of rebuilding Ohio’s roads and bridges. We can do so without denying 100,000 Ohio college students their right to vote,” said Rep. Kent Smith (D-Euclid). “I call upon Governor Kasich to veto this provision of the transportation budget.”

The provision will require anyone who registers to vote in Ohio to surrender their driver’s license if it’s from another state, obtain an Ohio driver’s license and register their vehicle with the state. Failure to do so within 30 days results in a criminal offense. The amendment appears to be aimed at the over 100,000 out-of-state students who come to Ohio each year and exercise their constitutional right to register and vote.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees certain fundamental rights to all citizens including the right to travel and the right to vote. And the US Supreme Court decision in Symm v. United States, 439 U.S. 1105, 99 S.Ct. 1006 (1979) largely settled the right of college students to vote where they reside, including at their college address.