Representative Bob Thorpe wants to teach Arizona's college students a history lesson. At least that's the only charitable spin we can put on his plan to single out college students for disenfranchisement. If Thorpe gets his way, students won't be able to vote in the elections that affect them most, in the communities where they live.
Thorpe says students don't really live where they go to school, that they're not really part of his northern Arizona community. He even claims to be "protecting" voters from being "disenfranchised" by the presence of student voters in their communities. Think about that for a minute: Thorpe thinks he's "disenfranchised" every time an NAU student votes in his northern Arizona district.
Photo Credit: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
That's the kind of twisted logic that justified excluding black voters in the Jim Crow South to "protect" white voters, and that said it would be unfair to men if women could vote. At AZAN, we believe it's important for students of all ages to learn that history, but that doesn't mean they should be forced to re-live it.
If you read our 2017 Legislative Report, you know Thorpe's bill didn't pass this year. But he's not done trying to end the "serious problem" of students voting where they live. He recently announced (in pretty Orwellian terms) that he will be pushing a modified version of his student disenfranchisement bill in next year's legislative session.
Why is Thorpe so obsessed with suppressing the student vote? Maybe it's because he had to overcome steep margins against him in the precincts around NAU's campus to win his race in 2016, or because those same precincts voted overwhelmingly for a Flagstaff minimum wage proposal he opposed.
Whatever his reasons, Thorpe has done us all a favor by announcing his plans so early. Now we have time to make people aware and get organized. So please, tell your friends that voter suppression is (sadly) alive and well in Arizona. Ask them to join Arizona Advocacy Network with a monthly contribution of as little as $10, or to give today.
There's a lot to do to improve our democracy. Let's start with demolishing the idea that it is a legitimate "tactic" to suppress the voices of those who disagree with you.