I've visited the voting booth in every election since I was born. My parents took me by force before I was even old enough to understand what was happening to me. By the time I turned two I had a general idea that my parents were picking the people we wanted in government like the people I saw on TV. When I show up with one or both of my parents to vote, the people at our polling place know me. They are happy that I show up, even though I can't yet vote myself.
One of the things the new voter suppression bill underway in North Carolina proposes is eliminating the ability of 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote. Students were encouraged to pre-register through programs at their schools and when they went to get their driver's license. In 2012, nearly 50,000 teenagers pre-registered, most as unaffiliated with any particular political party.
Wow, democracy! Young people participating in democracy is a good thing, right? Not according to some of our elected representatives in the North Carolina Senate. On Tuesday, July 23rd, a debate was held in the NC Legislature and sponsors of the voter suppression bill were questioned as to why this particular provision needed to be eliminated. Please watch this short portion of that debate: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zSC8D2brN8Y
What you just saw was Republican State Senator Bob Rucho, a dentist by trade, talk about how his son was confused as to when he was actually supposed to vote. Senator Rucho says he got a letter from the Board of Elections and had to write them back to ask for clarification on this matter. Let's just let go for a moment of the fact that Sen. Rucho somehow made it through college and dental school. Let's focus on the fact that Senator Rucho is Senator Rucho, a representative of the people of Mecklenburg County that has served over seven terms.
According to Senator Rucho, we should be concerned that if teenagers register to vote, they won't know that they can't actually vote until they reach the age of 18. They will be confused. Well, Senator Rucho, I am indeed confused. Why exactly should anyone vote for a person to represent them in government that is incapable of explaining to his own son that he has to be 18 to vote? Why should anyone vote for a man to serve in the North Carolina State Senate and have the ability to make our laws when he has to write a letter to the Board of Elections for clarification as to when his son can legally vote?
I'm not 16 or 17 years old. I'm 12 years old and I can see through this man's motives like a picture window. He wants to discourage young people from voting. Maybe it's because young people, in general, support things like marriage equality, women's rights, provisions for the poor and needy, funding for education, and strengthening the middle class. Could be, but Senator Rucho failed to give a good reason yesterday as to why eliminating teens to pre-register is a good idea, so all I can do is speculate. Whatever the reason, Senator Rucho believes insulting the intelligence of young people in the state of North Carolina, insulting the effectiveness of their teachers, insulting the ability of their parents to model citizenship, and insulting the people of Mecklenburg county and our whole state is a good idea.
I don't need you to protect me from confusion, Senator Rucho. I'm a functional human being. The only thing I am confused about is why anyone would want to re-elect you to represent them.