Virginia Task Force Recommends New Election Guidelines
Virginia, of course, isn't the first state to dissuade students from voting where they attend college. During the Democratic Primary contest, back in January 2008, there were reports of the Clinton campaign discouraging Iowa college students who weren't originally from the state from caucusing. The thinking at the time, which turned out to be absolutely true, was that students would overwhelmingly caucus for eventual nominee (and now president) Barack Obama. If you don't remember, take a look at this post from election law expert and law professor Rick Hasen.
Another authority on this topic is GW law professor and current Justice Department official Spencer Overton. In his excellent book, Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression, he tells the story of a district attorney in Texas threatening to prosecute students who attempted to run for office and vote at the historically Black college, Prairie View A & M University. The local election officials also reduced the polling hours at the precinct closest to the campus to make it more difficult for students to vote.
While Virginia's special Task Force came to the right conclusion about this issue, the fight for voting rights for students in far from over. Now the full Board of Elections must take action to ensure these eligible students have the chance to register and vote where they attend school. Other states should also look at their laws and administrative policies so local officials do not prevent eligible voters from participating in the political process.