Nick Confessore and his friend at Rolling Stone don’t like it when small towns discourage college kids from voting locally. I haven’t read the whole Rolling Stone piece, but I am at a complete loss as to why this is such an outrage. College kids, broadly speaking, do not live in the towns in which they go to college. They may go downtown to the record store, they may buy some buffalo wings and beers at the local bars, they may even make a few bucks at the local mall. But they don’t — as far as I know — pay property taxes, they don’t pay any taxes at all save perhaps sales taxes. They don’t care about property values, the quality of the schools, the business climate, the traditions, values, standards, prospects etc of the small town they’re in — at least not in the way residents who devote their lives and their children’s upbringing do.
So why should it be easy for college kids to vote in local elections? (Or why is it somehow outrageous to ask the question?) I know from my reporting in Burlington that the UVM kids are enlisted by the socialist (yes socialist) leadership of the town to pass all sorts of business un-friendly referenda and the like. If you’re a working man in Burlington who lost the opportunity to work on a new highway or construction project because a bunch of Voter-Rocking college kids from out of town passed a no-growth resolution, wouldn’t that annoy you?
It’s very easy to demand that a town be eco-friendly and whatnot when you’re an — often spoiled — tourist who has distant parents paying your bills and zero investment in the town’s ongoing success. I don’t think kids should be barred from voting locally necessarily. But creating standards for residency biased against the temporary visitors we call college students troubles me not in the least.