Arizona students might soon be turned away at polling stations if they show up with their student identifications.
House bill 2043, introduced by Rep. Kelly Townsend, would not allow high school, college or university IDs to be an acceptable form of identification when voting in Arizona. Townsend declined to comment on the bill.
Arizona’s Secretary of State website states that voters have the option at the polls to show either one form of photo ID with a full name and address, two forms of ID without photographs, but with matching names and addresses or a combination of the two options if the address on the photo ID is incorrect.
"I wasn't surprised when I saw the bill," said Adrian Sacripanti, director of media for the University of Arizona's Young Democrats. "It just, unfortunately, seems to be a continuation of just an effort to make it harder for people to vote in state."
The College Republicans United from Arizona State University think the bill could be a way to combat voter fraud.
“High School, College, or University IDs are given to anyone regardless of their immigration status,” said Julie Houtman, the club's president, over email. “Requiring strict government issued IDs for citizens, as a prerequisite to vote, is a small safeguard for our election integrity.”
Northern Arizona University’s Young Democrats President Calli Jones said she doesn’t think students committing voter fraud is a problem in Arizona.
“Students are not trying to actively fraud the United States government when they cast their vote,” Jones said.
JD Scott, vice president of financial affairs for Mesa Community College’s student government, also does not think voter fraud is a severe problem in Arizona.
“Trying to solve a problem that doesn’t currently exist in high enough numbers should not be prioritized over attempting to make the lives of citizens more convenient,” Scott said.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, examined voter fraud in the United States and found only five instances in Arizona. The most recent confirmed case was from 2012. The amount of ballots cast in 2012 was over 2.3 million, according to Arizona’s Secretary of State site.
Jones said he does think the bill would make voting even more difficult for students, if enacted.
“Voting already takes a huge time tax for students, and now on top of that, you want them to go and make sure they have an ID that fits your standards even though they have to prove certain types of citizenship to get their IDs originally?” Jones said. “It’s very short-sighted.”
The law for obtaining a ballot in Arizona currently does not explicitly prohibit the use of student IDs as a valid form of identification.
Scott pointed out that student IDs are already not a usable form of identification at the polls.
“They don't currently have addresses on them, which wouldn't be usable as it stands right now,” Scott said. “They still couldn't be used, but this precludes any colleges or schools from being able to assist their students and be able to vote by adding an address in the future onto their cards, which would then make them eligible and that would be extremely helpful for school students to be able to use a school ID.”
RELATED: Name & Gender Marker Change Clinic provides legal aide to transgender and gender-nonconforming community
Sacripanti of UA's Young Democrats said he saw the bill as a way to prevent making voting easier for students in the future.
"We would need to add addresses to students' IDs to use them for voting, but I think [the bill] just seems like a measure to prevent people from voting," Sacripanti said. "If you were to add addresses to student IDs, you would see an increase [in voting] and this act is to prevent that."
Jones said she was not surprised to learn about the bill, but she hopes it does not have the momentum to pass. If the bill does gain traction, Jones, along with the Young Democrats, will make sure NAU students are made aware of the bill and which politicians support it.
“I think I can speak to a bigger picture — not just NAU's campus — because I think that people are so scared to expand the electorate that they would rather suppress our vote than hear what the majority of students have to say, and I think this is just one way of them doing that,” Jones said.
Emily Kirkland, co-director of Progress Now Arizona, pointed out that the bill also removes utility bills, bank statements and vehicle registration from the list of acceptable identification at the polls in Arizona.
“Voter ID laws are a form of voter suppression,” Kirkland said about the bill. “They discriminate against seniors, students, minorities who are less likely to have identification.”
Kirkland said this is not the first bill she’s seen from the legislature attempting voter suppression.
“We see the discriminatory impact of these kinds of laws," Kirkland said, "and, as an organization, we are determined to fight against all forms of voter suppression and ensure that everyone is able to exercise their fundamental right to vote."
The bill was introduced last session but has not been scheduled for a first reading as of Jan. 24.
Follow Priya Jandu on Twitter