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Purdue campus card at center of voter ID discussion

Andrew Hudson   ||   May 23, 2019  ||   ,

Voter identification is crossing paths with the student ID card on a more frequent basis, and Purdue University's campus card has sparked discussion amongst elections officials in Tippecanoe County.

As reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Purdue's surrounding Tippecanoe County has been using a workaround solution since 2008 that enables Purdue students to vote with their university-issued ID cards. But a county clerk has recently brought the topic back to the fore, questioning whether the practice is in keeping with state voter identification laws.

Specifically, Purdue's campus card lacks the required expiration date that valid forms of voter identification in Indiana must have.

Reporting on the matter in 2008, the Journal & Courier said that acquiring card readers from the university to read student credentials at the voting booth was too cumbersome, so the university instead provided the county with digital, searchable lists of students enrolled for the 2008 spring semester a week prior to the primary elections. The Election Board deemed that a Purdue ID card paired with a check against the university-provided list was sufficient to meet state voter ID laws.

A version of that system has been in use ever since.

Last week Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush raised concerns over the legality of the process, stating that she initiated the conversation because she couldn’t find a written policy in the county’s vote center plans regarding the handling of Purdue IDs.

“Listen, if the state says it’s OK, I’m OK with that,” Roush said. “If we can work out something with Purdue, that would be even better. But I want to be lawful.”

Purdue University has pledged its full cooperation in finding a solution that will meet state voter identification standards and released an official statement on the matter, saying:

“In past elections, Tippecanoe County has allowed Purdue students to vote at on-campus polling sites using their university-issued ID cards as identification for voting purposes, as long as their name appeared as active in the online student directory. We saw the reports over the weekend that this arrangement may no longer be sufficient. We look forward to speaking with state and county officials to learn more and how we can be a partner in facilitating voting.”

Indiana voter identification laws state that a student ID card from an in-state university may be used if it meets the same requirements as the other acceptable forms of identification at the polls. That includes four primary components: name, photo, an expiration date proving the credential is current, and that the credential be issued by the state of Indiana or the U.S. government. In most cases, driver licenses, passports, state-issued IDs through the BMV or military identification are all acceptable.

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