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A 'foolish' plan to limit college students' voting rights

Thursday, March 10, 2011; 7:57 PM

Regarding the March 7 front-page article on voting laws that would restrict where college students can cast ballots ["State Republicans seek more limits on voters"]:

When New Hampshire ratified the 26th Amendment in 1971, the legislature provided a voice to millions of college-age Americans, some of whom had served America in Vietnam without the rights afforded to their older compatriots. Presumably, they had the same "easy self-confidence" that state Rep. Gregory Sorg condemned, but New Hampshire gave 18-year-olds the vote anyway.

Furthermore, to disparage our "youthful idealism" offends the fabric of America. Youthful idealism led Americans to heed President John F. Kennedy's call to join the Peace Corps. Youthful idealism inspires Americans to spend two years in Teach for America to educate the next generation of American entrepreneurs, scientists and leaders.

New Hampshire state House Speaker William O'Brien is right - we "vote [our] feelings." I feel that clean energy is vital. I feel that immigration reform is necessary. I want job opportunities once I graduate. And I feel offended that the Republican Party considers our votes "foolish."

Sam Cohen, Chevy Chase

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I was a student at the University of Maryland during the 2008 and 2010 elections and have been inspired by the voter mobilization efforts of the College Democrats and College Republicans alike. Both groups joined with the efforts of nonpartisan organizations to create an open political dialogue on campus. I heard, "We don't care how you vote, but please vote" over and over up until the day of the elections.

I chose to register at home, as I live in another Maryland district and felt my vote could be best heard there, but I believe that being registered affords me the benefit of advocating as a "concerned constituent" and a "concerned citizen" in both my communities. Some students, however, have a hard time caring about elections, and if restrictive voting laws prevent them from registering while they have the benefit of informed and committed campus advocates prepared to help them, when, if at all, will they become voting participants in our democracy?

Melissa Meek, Bel Air, Md.

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