Michael Wines for the NYT:
The story at Austin Community College is but one example of a political drama playing out nationwide: After decades of treating elections as an afterthought, college students have begun voting in force.
Their turnout in the 2018 midterms — 40.3 percent of 10 million students tracked by Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy & Higher Education — was more than double the rate in the 2014 midterms, easily exceeding an already robust increase in national turnout. Energized by issues like climate change and the Trump presidency, students have suddenly emerged as a potentially crucial voting bloc in the 2020 general election.
And almost as suddenly, Republican politicians around the country are throwing up roadblocks between students and voting booths.
Not coincidentally, the barriers are rising fastest in political battlegrounds and places like Texas where one-party control is eroding. Students overwhelmingly lean Democratic, with three in four supportive of impeaching President Trump, according to an Axios/College Reaction poll released this month.
Some states have wrestled with voting eligibility for out-of-state students in the past. And the politicians enacting the roadblocks often say they are raising barriers to election fraud, not ballots. “The threat to election integrity in Texas is real, and the need to provide additional safeguards is increasing,” the state’s attorney general, Ken Paxton, said last year in announcing one of his office’s periodic crackdowns on illegal voting. But evidence of widespread fraud is nonexistent, and the restrictions fit an increasingly unabashed pattern of Republican politicians’ efforts to discourage voters likely to oppose them.