To say this past week has been a busy one in the Merciad newsroom would be an understatement. With three pieces in last week’s edition of the paper focusing on the Pennsylvania Voter ID laws and its impact on Mercyhurst students, much discussion about this issue has arisen from both sides.
From students confused about the laws, writers struggling to determine the facts about what constitutes a valid ID, to the OneCard office refusing to issue voter IDs to out-of-state students, emotions ran high and much confusion ensued.
As the Opinion Editor, I was thrilled that there was discourse on this issue, as the voter ID law is controversial in and of itself, not to mention the inadvertent voter suppression being instituted by the OneCard office not issuing students from out of state an ID to vote using their college address. To have a productive dialogue on pertinent issues is what I strive for each week, and the Merciad as a whole seeks to uncover salient issues on campus.
After a few days of confusion, Vice President of Student Life Gerry Tobin, PhD., with the approval of President Tom Gamble, PhD., clarified the University’s stance on issuing ID cards.
Tobin’s policy proposal stated that all students are eligible to be issued a new card for voting purposes, and no further questions pertaining to residency or the surrendering of an out-of-state driver’s license would be asked.
This correction was directed at John Patterson of the OneCard office, who wass not allowing students registered with their school address who hold an out of state driver’s license to be issued a new Mercyhurst card, an issue of contention between Patterson’s office and local voter registration effors.In sum, it corrected the misinformation the OneCard office was disseminating to students, and corrected John Patterson’s actions.
As both a political science student involved in voter registration efforts, and the Opinion Editor of the Merciad, I would like to thank President Gamble and Dr. Tobin for clarifying this policy. Now students can exercise their right to use their college address to vote, and will no longer be denied a Mercyhurst ID with an expiration date needed in this election.
The initative and leadership shown by Gamble and Tobin set not only a good precedent for a timely response to current political issues facing the student body, but also for correcting a mistake.
With many students, departments and administrators all weighing in on this heated matter, the leadership shown by both in setting the record straight was much needed and much appreciated.