Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones has her own political ‘kill list’; Ohio’s young voters need theirs
Actress Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark on the HBO series Game of Thrones, revealed her “kill list” to the UK’s young voters ahead of the recent election. Newly 18 and voting for the first time, Maisie mapped out photos of a few of Britain’s elite politicians, plus Russian President Vladimir Putin, and even Russell Brand and Kanye West, ultimately enlisting Britain’s 3.3 million young voters to join the fight against those public figures who have “kicked [their] future in the teeth and hoped [they] wouldn’t notice.”
Williams says British politicians have counted on young voters to keep up appearances as the, “self-obsessed, selfie-stick generation.” These anti-progressive politicians are comfortable with the assumption that the younger generation of voters has unplugged from the political process, plugging into Facebook and Twitter instead, but not actually converting that online engagement into real world action.
Williams is a rock star for bringing this issue of perception into the public eye in Britain. Something similar has been happening in Ohio, actually, for years…except here, our elected officials are trying to write off youth by writing up new laws to prevent their entrance into political participation. Where’s our rock star?
In the 2012 presidential election, young people made up 19 percent of the electorate nationwide. 700,000 of these young voters were Ohio college students. ‘As goes Ohio, so goes the nation,’ they say, and, in the 2016 election, we don’t expect this to change. Ohio students will again hold a large amount of power over the outcome of the election, and in determining who will represent our collective future. That is, unless GOP lawmakers get in their way.
Yesterday, ThinkProgress reported that, “since the last presidential election, Republicans in Ohio have made repeated efforts to make it harder for students in the state to vote, including eliminating early voting and registration periods and enacting others barriers that keep young people, African Americans and Latinos away from the polls.”
As I alluded to earlier, in March, Ohio GOP Lawmakers snuck an amendment into the Transportation Budget that, “would [have required] out-of-state college students attending universities in this state to purchase an Ohio driver’s license in order to register as a voter in the State of Ohio,” in what would have essentially amounted in an unconstitutional poll tax. Luckily, after a lot of noise was made by college students on both sides of the aisle (in, albeit, a brief show of bipartisanship), Ohio Governor John Kasich line-item vetoed the proposed amendment. So, that’s good.
But this wasn’t the first attack on voting rights in Ohio. In November 2014, Ohio Secretary of State John Husted and GOP members of the Ohio House and Senate eliminated an entire week of early voting, known affectionately around the state as Golden Week.
Golden Week was a time period when Ohioans could register and vote at the same time, increasing convenience and access to the ballot box. But, now that’s gone. Unfortunately, traditionally progressive voters, including students and low-income voters, were disproportionately affected by the removal of this procedure.
Then, just last Friday, a few of Ohio’s litigious rock stars filed a lawsuit against Husted and Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine. The lawsuit seeks relief from the State’s infringement on thousands of Ohioans’ “rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed by the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution” and to address “violations of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.” Basically, it calls out the State for undermining the basic provisions protecting ballot box access for young Ohioans as American citizens.
These rock star Plaintiffs are fighting the good fight. Ohio lawmakers, particularly GOP lawmakers, continue to violate young people’s rights to vote–attacking early voting and adding hurdles to the registration process–mostly in the name of “safeguarding” the state from the .0002 percent of the population Husted believes has engaged in voter fraud. Still, this lawsuit is not enough to secure our voting rights.
Young Ohioans–and all those disenfranchised by the State’s illegal and borderline immoral assaults on voter access–need to be their own rock stars. We are not hiding behind our selfie-sticks; we can, and must, unplug from Facebook and plug into the political process.
We can think for ourselves and determine our own futures, but unless we expose the dealings of Ohio officials for what they are–quantifiable violations of our constitutional rights–those we elect to serve us will continue to kick our future in the teeth, and hope we just don’t care enough to notice. If we don’t stand up for our most basic of freedoms–like the right to vote–it doesn’t matter who we put on our political “kill lists.” We won’t have the chance to vote anyone out of office.