The Kochs’ Next Big Idea? Disenfranchising Young Voters

by Sandi Behrns

What’s wrong with young voters, anyway? If you’re a conservative, like Republican House Speaker in New Hampshire, Bill O’Brien, the problem is that they “vote liberal,” as Alan recently posted.

“They go into these general elections, they’ll have 900 same day registrations, which are the kids coming out of the schools and basically doing what I did when I was a kid, which is [vote liberal],” he said. “They don’t have life experience and they don’t have life experience and they just vote their feelings and they’re taking away the town’s ability to govern themselves, it’s not fair.”

Yes, it’s terribly unfair that these young residents go off voting their feelings and inhibiting the will of the town’s older residents.

If this were just the ill-conceived words of O’Brien speaking off-the-cuff, unaware he was being taped, we could laugh this off. Turns out, however, as reported by the Washington Post, the New Hampshire House…

is trying to put those words into law, with two bills designed to disenfranchise young voters — one to disallow them from voting if they or their parents haven’t established residency in that district, the other to disallow same-day voter registration altogether.

And it’s not just New Hampshire: a bill is pending in Wisconsin that would ban students from using in-state university- or college-issued IDs for proof-of-residency when voting. This legislation, backed by Walker, would also end same-day voter registration at the polls.

In fact, new conservative majorities in 18 states have introduced legislation running the gamut from requiring in-state driver’s licenses, to banning school IDs, to prohibiting first-time voters, and voting by absentee ballot.

One could be excused were they to think the whole thing seems much too coordinated to be coincidence. That is exactly what is happening. The group Campus Progress, a part of Center For American Progress, has obtained a copy of a legislative model drafted and distributed by The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization linked to corporate and right-wing donors, including the billionaire Koch brothers.

Who is ALEC? Fortune magazine has called ALEC the “political player you’ve never heard of.” It has been around since 1973 and is funded by conservative organizations including the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the John M. Olin Foundation. Its board includes representatives from Coca-Cola, AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, WalMart, and, of course, Koch Industries.

Lest anyone dismisses the actions being attempted in Wisconsin and elsewhere against labor unions as coincidental; coupled with these coordinated efforts to disenfranchise traditional Democratic-leaning voters, we see a highly organized power grab with the Kochs at the center of it all.

About Sandi Behrns

Sandi Behrns is a noted policy nerd, new media & web developer, and consultant to progressive organizations and campaigns. She is a senior contributor to Liberaland, and the Executive Editor of Progressive Congress News.

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