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In states, parties clash over voting laws that would affect college students, others


In the video above, New Hampshire state House Speaker William O'Brien addresses a crowd saying students lack "life experience" and "just vote their feelings."

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An analysis by the North Carolina State Board of Elections showed that any new law requiring a state-issued ID could be problematic for large numbers of voters, particularly African Americans, whose turnout in 2008 helped Obama win the state.

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Blacks account for about one-fifth of the North Carolina electorate but are a larger share - 27 percent - of the approximately 1 million voters who may lack a state-issued ID or whose names do not exactly match the Division of Motor Vehicles database. The analysis found about 556,000 voters with no record of an ID issued by the DMV.

Republican lawmakers in North Carolina had pledged to make a photo ID bill a top priority for their new majority, but they have yet to release a plan, with the caucus deliberating over how restrictive it should be. The issue could present a dilemma for Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue, who would have to choose between signing or vetoing a bill that would be popular with swing voters but that could dampen turnout of voters she needs to win reelection next year.

In Wisconsin, a photo-ID bill backed by the state's new GOP majority would not permit voters to use school-issued student cards. The measure would allow for other IDs, such as passports, but opponents say thousands of students who do not have Wisconsin driver's licenses or passports would face unfair hurdles that would keep many of them from voting.

Republican state Sen. Mary Lazich, who heads the chamber's elections committee, said the legislation is designed to prevent irregularities, such as allegations that votes have been cast by the deceased. She said she hoped to work with university officials to allow student IDs at some point.

Student groups are rallying opposition, distributing fliers on campuses and creating Facebook pages to pressure lawmakers.

"It's no coincidence that some of the groups being targeted and that would be most affected by the bill are more Democratic generally," said Sam Polstein, 19, a University of Wisconsin sophomore from New York who is helping to organize the protests.

Opponents are also using a tea party twist - cost - to try to defeat the bill.

States that require voter IDs also must be willing to pay for them, the result of a court ruling that declared part of Georgia's ID law unconstitutional because people lacking IDs would have to pay for cards themselves - creating, in effect, a poll tax. A legislative analysis shows the Wisconsin measure would cost the state $2.7 million a year.

The Wisconsin bill is poised for passage in the state Senate but is stalled because of the legislative standoff between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and state Senate Democrats over his plan to roll back public-sector unions' collective-bargaining rights.

The outcome could be particularly critical in Wisconsin. Though Obama won the state easily in 2008, strategists in both parties expect his reelection contest to be much closer. In 2004, the Democratic nominee, Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), won there by just 11,000 votes, a margin easily covered just by the 17,000 out-of-state students who attend the University of Wisconsin's campus in Madison.

New Hampshire bill

In New Hampshire, the measure that covers college students also targets members of the military who are temporarily stationed in the state. But there are no major military installations there, and GOP lawmakers have reserved their criticisms for the voting behavior of students - leading even some college-age Republicans to fight back.


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