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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Letter to the editor: New law hindering young voter participation

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  • To the editor:
    Sometimes our actions have unintended consequences.
    I feel sure the new law imposed on Kansans to prove their citizenship to register to vote was not intended to stymie the efforts of our enthusiastic 18-year-olds and soon-to-be 18-year-olds.
    But, that has happened.
    This past week, we spent the lunch hour for three days at the Leavenworth High School cafeteria, offering to register those students who would be 18 before August or November. On the first day, we had about 30-35 students stop by and show interest.
    A few were not going to be old enough to vote in the next election. But, most of them were, some being 18 already. Many produced a driver’s license to prove their identity. But, on the first day none had the required proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate or passport.
    We encouraged them to return the next day with either of those documents.
    Two did.
    As one teacher suggested to us, parents might be reluctant to send either of those documents to school.
    The school office had birth certificates on record and offered to copy them for the 18-year-olds who asked. Students younger than 18 who would be 18 by the election would need parental permission to get copies. Three or four students went so far as to follow this procedure.
    We know we have an apathetic citizenry. Most people do not bother to vote. Now, we are requiring first-time voters to prove citizenship.
    What or whom are we afraid of?
    Carolyn Tillotson
    Rebecca Johnson
    Leavenworth County League of Women Voters
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