Ohio Bill Seeks to Link Voting Rights with In-State Tuition

Ohio Bill Seeks to Link Voting Rights with In-State Tuition

May 23, 2013

In Ohio, a House-passed budget provision that would link local voting rights to in-state tuition is now under consideration in the Senate. If the bill passes unchanged, estimates by the Innovation Ohio group place the potential cost for colleges and universities as high as $272 million.

The proviso pertains to the common practice of providing students with 'proof of residency' forms, such as utility bills, so that they can register to vote locally. Currently, students can register to vote in Ohio 30 days after moving on campus. Roughly 10 percent of Ohio's 220,000 post-secondary students come from outside of the state, as reported in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Ohio Republicans question whether non-resident students should have a local vote because of their lack of familiarity with local affairs. They argue that if out-of-state students receive the same voting rights as state residents, those students should be eligible for in-state tuition.

There is significant opposition to the addendum. University leaders say that they cannot afford the millions in lost revenue, and that the measure would be unfair to in-state students whose families' tax dollars are used to subsidize state higher education. Senator Randy Gardner told the Columbus Dispatch that Senate opposition to the provision is "overwhelming."

The 1979 United States Supreme Court ruling SYMM v. U.S established that students can register and vote wherever they go to school. As such, the proposal could see further resistance in the judicial system should it pass through the Senate.

The last chance for removal of the provision is on June 5. Otherwise, Ohio Governor John Kasich has the option of a line-item veto, but his office has yet to make a formal comment on the matter.


Related Links:

Cincinnati Enquirer


The Columbus Dispatch


Recording of a press interview with House Speaker William Batchelder on May 2, 2013


Michael Sisson

State Relations