North Carolina Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Penalize Parents Of College Student Voters

North Carolina State Rep. Bill Cook (R)

A Republican legislator in North Carolina is pushing a bill to penalize parents if they have a child in college who chooses to vote where they study.

State Rep. Bill Cook (R) introduced SB 667 this week, which would raise taxes on families with college students if the child registers to vote at school rather than at home.

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Senate Bill 667, known as “Equalize Voter Rights,” would remove the tax exemption for dependents who register to vote at any address other than their parents’ home.

“If the voter is a dependent of the voter’s parent or legal guardian, is 18 years of age or older and the voter has registered at an address other than that of the parent or legal guardian, the parent or legal guardian will not be allowed to claim the voter as a dependent for state income tax purposes,” the bill says.

In the 1979 case Symm v. United States, the Supreme Court affirmed a decision holding that a state cannot place unique burdens on college student voters that do not apply to others. While this bill attempts to sidestep Symm by not explicitly prohibiting college students from registering, the financial penalty their parents would face still amounts to an attempt to punish these voters for voting at their school address rather than their home, and should not be upheld if it is passed.

Cook is not the only Republican lawmaker trying to disenfranchise college students. During the last election cycle, the Republican House Speaker in New Hampshire discouraged students from voting because they’ll just vote “liberal,” and in Maine the Republican Secretary of State sent threatening letters to student voters encouraging them to re-register in another state. This year, a GOP legislator in Indiana introduced a bill in February to bar students who pay out-of-state tuition from voting in the Hoosier State.

Far-right legislation is becoming a mainstay in North Carolina. Republicans, who currently control both legislative chambers and the governor’s office, are currently considering enacting voter ID in the Tar Heel State. In addition, eleven lawmakers recently sponsored a resolution to ignore the constitutional prohibition on government establishment of religion.