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@NCCapitol

Senate bill seeks to curb college vote

Posted April 3, 2013

— A bill filed in the state Senate Tuesday would carry a tax penalty for parents whose children register to vote at their college address.

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. 

The measure would affect only state income tax, so it wouldn't have much effect on out-of-state students. But it could effectively cut student voting in counties like Watauga and Orange, where college voters have been a key part of the Democratic Party's dominance. 

The bill would also require voters to have their vehicles registered at the same address as their voter registration. That also could cut down on college student registration, since many students maintain their vehicle registration in their home counties.

Sponsor Bill Cook, R-Beaufort, didn't immediately respond to inquiries about the intent of the legislation.

House Minority Leader Larry Hall said the bill "would raise taxes on middle-class families who are trying to put their children through college.”

“I refuse to believe the Republican leadership has become so desperate to limit voting for partisan gain that they would be willing to support tax increases to achieve that goal," said Hall, D-Durham. "It is the definition of arrogance to penalize parents with new taxes just because their children want to exercise their right to vote in the community they live in.”

Four other Republican senators have signed on as co-sponsors, including a member of the Senate leadership – budget chairman Sen. Neal Hunt, R-Wake. 

The same provisions on student voting have also been rolled into a larger omnibus bill, Senate Bill 666, which would also shorten early voting days, ban early voting on evenings and weekends and prohibit same-day registration.

That bill is also sponsored by Cook and is similar to House Bill 451, which was filed last week by House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes.

UPDATE: In an emailed statement this afternoon, Cook defended S666 and S667, saying their reforms "will be appreciated by citizens in this state who view voting as a sacred civic duty."

"In these tough economic times, we need to be proactive in finding ways to save money. One day of early voting in North Carolina costs $98,000. Our counties bear this cost exclusively. Cutting back early voting from seventeen to ten days does this by saving roughly $686,000 per election. This money would be better used to hire teachers and first responders," Cook said.

"We are simply equalizing the playing field for all voters in our state," the statement said.

Jay DeLancy of the NC Voter Integrity Project also voiced support for the student voting restrictions, citing a case in which college students in Buncombe County changed the outcome of a race for a county commission seat in 2012.

"That race showed how easily college students can be manipulated like pawns," DeLancy said in a press release. "These bills will protect students from such abuse."

58 Comments

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  • kb4mdy Apr 5, 9:04 p.m.

    The Internet is great - you can look anything up. Below is the definition from the IRS.gov site. The dependent child does NOT have to reside with the claiming parent. NOTE the exception in #2 for temporary absences.

    In general, to be a taxpayer’s qualifying child, a person must:

    1) Be the taxpayer’s child or stepchild (whether by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or stepsibling, or a descendant of one of these.
    2) Have the same principal residence as the taxpayer for more than half the tax year. Exceptions apply, in certain cases, for children of divorced or separated parents, kidnapped children, temporary absences, and for children who were born or died during the year.
    3) Age — must be under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year, or under the age of 24 if a full-time student for at least five months of the year, or be permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year.
    4) Support — did not provide more than one-half of his/her own supp

  • FragmentFour Apr 5, 6:05 a.m.

    DeLancey is SO full of it. He's trying to limit the impact of the Democratic party in Orange County. Voting IS a sacred duty, and I resent the fire out of any and every Republican trying to limit anyone's ability to carry it out.

  • junk95650 Apr 4, 4:53 p.m.

    As I skim through your website, I'm amused at the stupidity of your controlling GOP. Didn't Gov. Jindal say the GOP must "stop being the stupid party?" I guess your state representatives didn't get that memo.

  • RaleighHunts Apr 4, 12:22 p.m.

    "Meanwhile, residency is a separate legal issue from tax dependency. Ask any parent paying child support - if they provide more than 50% of the support for a child living with the other parent, then they legally get to claim the child in their taxes as a dependent."

    THIS IS NOT TRUE.

    Go look at the IRS definition of a child dependent. They MUST be living at a parent's address for at least 50% of the year to qualify as a dependent.

  • ronogle Apr 4, 10:40 a.m.

    "What they did not want you to ever find out is that your generation, the generation born between 1980-1995, actually outnumbers the Baby Boomers. They knew that if you ever turned your eye towards political reform, you could change the world. They tried to keep you sated on vapid television shows and vapid music. They cut off your education and fed you brain candy. They took away your music and gave you Top Ten pop stations. They cut off your art and replaced it with endless reality shows for you to plug into, hoping you would sit quietly by as they ran the world. We as a society are only as strong as our weakest link. Give ‘em hell, kids."

  • kb4mdy Apr 4, 8:30 a.m.

    Regardless of tax dependent status, college students ARE legally resident where they attend college. Both my children were in college at the time of the 2010 census. The census rules were very explicit - they HAD TO BE COUNTED at their college location. THIS IS THE LAW. That census was the basis for the redistricting performed by the NC legislature in 2010. So the NC legislature used their college addresses as their legal residence for representation. It also allows that local area to collect state and federal funding (for things like water, sewer, roads) based on that population. THIS IS WHY college students are legally allowed to vote where they reside for most of the year. It is illegal to prevent them from doing so. Meanwhile, residency is a separate legal issue from tax dependency. Ask any parent paying child support - if they provide more than 50% of the support for a child living with the other parent, then they legally get to claim the child in their taxes as a dependent.

  • walkingoffthebuz Apr 4, 7:47 a.m.

    This is embarrassing. I am ashamed to live in this state sometimes.

  • reebs11 Apr 3, 11:11 p.m.

    Regardless of how undemocratic this bill is, what about the municipal and county elections that college students have a right to participate in during their four years as members of a community entirely separate from that of their parents??

  • fedora Apr 3, 10:54 p.m.

    this is nothing but a polling tax,,,it's a tax to cast a vote, this is a tax on a vote...

  • fedora Apr 3, 10:51 p.m.

    THIS IS CRAZY,,,,welcome to the GOP way of life people....

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