Students have every right to vote here


To the editor:

I leave it to others trolled directly to respond to the bulk of Tony Mealy’s caviling “No action on election complaints” letter. However, I do take strenuous issue with his penultimate-paragraph slam at student voting as “electoral abuse.” I’m not talking about busing registered voters to the Board of Elections or providing endorsement lists; these targets of his frustrated rant are clearly neither improper nor unusual.

The only “out of state students” at a private college are those who self-identify as such. There’s no “in-state tuition” or other differential in play at Oberlin College or indeed at most of its peer institutions.

Many OC students choose to begin exercising their political citizenship in this locality during the period of their eight-month (or greater) residency each of their four or five years here. There is absolutely nothing abusive about this. The fact that many move away after graduation makes no difference. Would we make their ballots “provisional” for some matters or others, for years, until they decided where they would live next? Of course not.

And of course, the 600 or so who leave each year, most after voting in exactly one presidential and one gubernatorial election in this jurisdiction, are replaced three months later by another 700 or so who will (shrink some as a population and) vote in exactly one presidential and one gubernatorial election while they abide here. The truth is, college students provide the most stable voting demographic we have.

Any 18-year-old can register to vote either where they matriculate, or where they’re launching from. It’s entirely a matter of personal choice, often based on a judgment of where their vote will make a bigger difference. It’s actually a choice they share with people like my son, during his years of service in the United States Navy.

To suggest it is illegitimate for any American citizen entitled to exercise such a choice choosing either way actually itself smacks of a genuinely abusive practice: that of voter intimidation or suppression. Please, let’s rid our local political discourse of this sort of cant once and for all.

David R. Ashenhurst

Also a former member of Oberlin City Council