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House Bill takes aim at student voting

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TUCSON - As the sun went down on Thursday at the University of Arizona, Cesar Aguilar was hard at work.

"Are you guys registered to vote?" Aguilar asks two students who pass by him. "We have an important election coming up this November."

Aguilar is the Executive Director of the Arizona Students' Association, an organization that works to register voters on college campuses.

The ASA stands firmly opposed to House Bill 2461.

Proposed by Flagstaff Republican Rep. Bob Thorpe, HB-2461 bans the use of any address on a voter registration form if the person does not intend to be there throughout the year.

Rep. Thorpe wants those students to get an early mail-in ballot and vote in the communities in which they have a permanent address.

"It's voter suppression," Aguilar said. "That's what it flat out is. You're paying your bills in Tucson, you're going to school in Tucson, your rent in Tucson. Everything is local. I'm more impacted here and I'm going to come here the next year for my next semester."

Thorpe argues in his Flagstaff district, voters who go to Northern Arizona University and only live there part of the year, can cancel out the votes of permanent Flagstaff residents.

He sent a statement to News 4 Tucson which reads in part:

"This is a fairness issue. The purpose of a local election is to set policy for the citizens who live within that community. It is unfair for individuals who do not live full time or intend to live full time within a community to help enact policy that the local citizens do not support."

Flagstaff Republican Rep. Bob Thorpe

Aguilar believes bills like this will only motivate more students to register.

"This is not exercising Democracy," he said. "Our founding fathers fought for this right to be able to vote. Students went to war at the age of 18 to get the right to vote. This is not what American is about."

The bill is yet to get a hearing this session.

Eric Fink

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