Allegations of voter fraud by college students in Ohio elections have a long history and so do allegations of voter suppression.
An article in the Newark Advocate today details a complaint from six Granville residents about alleged irregularities around Denison students’ voting in the last election. The Licking County Board of Elections is seeking legal advice on the charges. According to the article, the allegations include letting students vote with a utility bill as ID, specifically, a “zero balance utility bill” issued at the bookstore.
According to a memorandum issued by the Secretary of State to Boards of Election in 2007, reaffirmed in 2008, and cited in the article, such bills are in fact acceptable forms of identification.
The purpose of showing ID on election day is to affirm that the voter lives where he or she is registered, and a utility bill with the name and address is valid for that purpose. At Dension and many other private colleges, however, all students are required to live on campus so they do not receive separate utility bills; the cost of utilities is built into a larger fee for room and board. The memorandum clarifies that a bill from an institution, even one with zero balance, shows that the recipient lives on campus.
Although the authors of the letter seem to think that only public colleges are covered under the advisory memorandum, the document itself mentions only “colleges and universities in Ohio,” making no distinction between private and public.
Another private Ohio college, The College of Wooster, instructs students specifically about presenting a zero-balance bill when going to vote.
We will be interested to hear how this issue develops.