By Alex Nagler
There are many myths and misconceptions about registering to vote on a college campus. Sources, whose intentions are to obfuscate the process have been preventing students from voting in a location that they live eight months out of the year. A student lives on a campus for the majority of a year, shops in its local stores, uses its local facilities, and contributes to its local economy. They have every right to vote in the area they live. So, with that, let’s look at three major myths about registering to vote on campus.
The first claim is that registering to vote makes you eligible for jury duty, forcing you to subject to one of the more tedious aspects of our democracy. Jury duty, though an essential part of our judicial process and the civic duty of all Americans, is boring. Well, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if you have a driver’s license, they have your number. Plus, Stony Brook is a state school controlled by the state government, the same government that controls the judicial system. They’re going to send you your assignment regardless of if you register to vote or not. So the claim, “I don’t want to be called up for jury duty” doesn’t work.
Can’t Claim Dependent
Dependency status is something that all families of college students rely upon. It’s the right of your parents to tell the government that you’re their problem, and therefore they deserve $3500 off their income taxes. Obviously this is a very good thing for parents, but some students have been told that if they register to vote, they’ll be unable to let their parents claim them as dependents. This is simply not true. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law has this to say on the issue:
“If you make less than $3500 in a year and your parents provide more than half of your support (money spent on your food, housing, clothes, health care, tuition, books, laundry, car, etc.) for that year, you are a qualifying relative and are your parents’ dependent no matter where you live. If you earn more than $3500, it’s true that your residency could have some effect on your parents’ ability to claim you as a dependent, but voter registration is only one of many factors that will be considered.” Registering to vote is not going to keep your folks from claiming you.
Lose Your Scholarship
Scholarships are, for those who have them, the vital lifeblood of attending school without destroying their own or their parent’s savings accounts. New York doesn’t have any rules about loss of scholarship for registering or reregistering elsewhere, and unless you’re from Rhode Island, you don’t have anything to worry about. Place of registration does not affect any federally given financial aid, such as Pell, Perkins, Stafford, or SMART. It doesn’t affect private loans either. It doesn’t even affect FAFSA. The only time you could be in jeopardy here is if you received a private scholarship based solely on where you live.
So, there we have it. Jury duty, dependency, and scholarship are all no longer reasons you shouldn’t register to vote on a college campus. Neither are health or car insurance. Sorry if I just took away all of your excuses.
Now get up off your ass and register to vote. The New York State deadline is October 10.