One of the big misnomers in politics is the nickname for the voter ID bill, the law passed by the N.C. General Assembly in 2013. The law does require a valid license or ID card to vote, starting this year, but it also introduced a series of measures that taken together reduce opportunities to register or vote.
Or even to learn about voting.
Back in 2012, which now seems like the distant past when it comes to voting access, I talked to teenage would-be voters who could preregister to vote at their high school at age 16. Most were 17-year-olds who would be 18 by that year’s general election. There was a voter education component to the preregistration program, too.
The program always struck me as a good civics lesson and a way to get youngsters involved. We always complain that too few Americans vote.
Since the program was quite useful, they cut it out, because that’s the way politics works sometimes. Call that another lesson for young voters.
But 17-year-olds should know that they can still vote in this year’s elections, if they will be 18 by the time of the general election. They can even vote in the primaries at age 17 for races that will also be on the general election ballot, such as the presidential race.
On Tuesday, I met with two 17-year-olds at the county Board of Elections downtown, as they registered to vote for the first time.
Charlee Liebers, a Jack Britt High junior, and Ethan Dumond, a junior at Terry Sanford High, got their voter education the old-fashioned way: in the home.
Charlee came Tuesday with her mother, Debbie Liebers, and Ethan with his grandmother, Judy Lowe. Both women have long been involved in progressive politics and proudly talked of their arrests in the Moral Monday protests, organized in Raleigh to protest conservative policies that came from the state General Assembly.
Charlee said she had been taken to help her mom work at voting precincts since she was a little girl. She wore a Hillary Clinton sticker on her sweater but said she had not yet been following the election closely.
She does know one thing about the candidates for president: “I don’t really like how they bash on each other. They should talk about their own plans.”
Ethan said he had not made up his mind on whom he might support. Both said that most of their schoolmates were not enthused or interested in the political process.
“It’s a right in the U.S. to be able to vote,” Ethan said. “In other countries they don’t have that privilege. We get to choose who gets to be the best leaders of this country. I want to be a part of that.”
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Myron B. Pitts is a columnist at the Fayetteville Observer.