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Ballot stations: MU dems protest voting restriction

By James Steinbauer
On April 22, 2014

As part of the College Democrat's Progressive Week, Miami's College Democrats, in coalition with Brickwork, a progressive magazine, and other progressive groups will be holding a voting rights demonstration this Thursday near the seal.

Members from the College Democrats, Spectrum, The F Word and Black Women Empowered as well as community members from Oxford Citizens for Peace and Justice have banded together in a progressive "coalition" and will hold a demonstration, which will include handing out quarter sheets and a voting booth bearing the label "closed," in response to the current wave of restricting voting laws passed in Ohio.

"This is an issue that affects college students everywhere," Editor -in-Chief of Brickwork Matt Metzler said. "We have busy lives and schedules and we can't always afford to stand in long lines on Election Day. We really rely on early voting."

This February, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 238, which shaves days off the early voting period and completely eliminates "Golden Week," a brief window when voters could register and vote early on the same day.

Another bill, Senate Bill 205, prohibits anyone but Secretary of State Jon Husted from mailing unsolicited absentee ballots to voters.

Metzler said the progressive coalition is simply trying to rally all people who have a stake in early voting.

"We don't want to make this a partisan issue," Miami College Democrats President Keary Iarussi said. "However, the fact is that the republicans control super majorities in both legislative bodies in Ohio and we know that this is a priority of the Republican Party."

President of the Miami University College Republicans Katey Papin acknowledged that republicans across the state of Ohio are simply looking to eliminate all fraudulent voting activities those seen in the 2012 presidential elections.

"Voter fraud is not a real issue and statistically voter fraud just does not happen," Metzler said. "Nevertheless, supporters of these new voting policies often evoke voter fraud as their reason."

The College Democrats voting rights demonstration seems fitting given Miami's yearlong focus on the anniversary of Western Campus' role in the 1964 Freedom Summer, a connection that the College Democrats do not fail to make.

"These attacks on voting rights don't affect affluent middle class Americans," Iarussi said. "They disproportionately effect poor voters, who more than not happen to be minorities."

Like Iarussi, Metzler believes the recent voting restrictions are paving the way for a new era of activists.

"We want to promote student initiated activities to promote freedom summer in our own way," Metzler said. "We want take the inspiration of student leadership and student activism and put a modern twist on that and see how we can get students involved on this campus."

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