Americans who head to the polls at a young age are more likely to become lifelong voters.
But that apparently doesn’t matter to an ultraconservative faction in Kansas, considering its disinterest in encouraging younger voters to engage in the process.
Pushed primarily by Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Kansas’ Voter ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements enacted under the guise of targeting voter fraud only sidelined prospective voters — including, conveniently enough for the far right, many young adults not likely to support ideology-driven pursuits that hurt the poor, discriminate against gays, attack public school teachers and damage Kansas in other ways.
Of nearly 37,000 people bogged down in Kansas’ current voter registration system and placed on a suspended list, more than 40 percent were younger than 30.
Ultraconservatives running the Kansas Statehouse didn’t seem to care.
The League of Women Voters did, and will work with Washburn, Emporia State and Fort Hays State universities on a lesson plan to help college students better understand Kansas voting laws, and successfully register to vote.
While expected, negative reactions from Gov. Sam Brownback’s camp still were disturbing at a time efforts to boost voter participation should be paramount.
Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services spokesman Angela de Rocha’s social media comments were particularly thoughtless.
“So it takes an entire semester to learn how to register to vote. Really?” (The lesson plan actually would be taught over a day or week.)
“Do we want these slow learners voting? Or is this a stealth course paid for by taxpayers to train left-wing ‘community organizers’ like the League of Women Voters on how to agitate?”
De Rocha should know the League of Women Voters — a nonpartisan organization — has long played a positive role in educating the electorate, registering voters and making government more accessible and responsive to citizens. The League understandably sees ID and proof-of-citizenship requirements as unnecessary barriers to voting.
While we’d hope college students already were prepared for the civic duty of voting, poor policymaking did indeed complicate the process — and, by design, suppress the vote.
The focus should be on getting more people to the polls. Education always helps, whether Kansas’ radical-right forces like it or not.