Monday, September 08, 2008

And So It Begins (Again)

Montgomery County, Virginia (considered to be one of the major swing states in the presidential election), has decided to try and frighten potential college-aged voters away from voter registration tables by issuing the following statement:
“The Code of Virginia states that a student must declare a legal residence in order to register. A legal residence can be either a student’s permanent address from home or their current college residence. By making Montgomery County your permanent residence, you have declared your independence from your parents and can no longer be claimed as a dependent on their income tax filings — check with your tax professional. If you have a scholarship attached to your former residence, you could lose this funding. And, if you change your registration to Montgomery County, Virginia Code requires you to change your driver’s license and car registration to your present address within 30 days.”
Wow. So, basically, one false move and the average college-aged voter might be out of a scholarship, out of their homes and families and unable to drive a car. Or maybe not. It seems the hot and heavy wording of this directive isn't exactly accurate. But don't take my word for it.

Take the word of... well.... the Virginia State Board of Elections, the very same office that issued the above, on their website for college students, which answers the question "What is my legal residence?" as follows:
"What is my legal residence?

You are the one to determine and declare the city, county and state in which you claim your legal residence. This may be the residence where your family lives, or the city or county and state where your school is located. Consider the following questions to determine which to declare:
  • Are you claimed as a dependent on your parents’ income tax return? If you are, then their address is probably your legal residence.
  • Do you have a scholarship that would be affected if you changed your legal residence? Some scholarships require that the student be a resident of a particular town, city or state. Contact the provider of your scholarship to determine if a change in your legal residence will affect your scholarship.
  • Would your health, automobile or other insurance coverage be affected by a change in your legal residence? If you are covered under your parents’ insurance policy, your protection could be affected by a change in your legal residence.
  • Are you close to graduation and intend to live and work in the same community as your college after you graduate? If you do, then you may want to use your college address as your legal residence if you will not be affected by the issues listed above.
  • Also consider that many students move frequently while in college and after graduation. You must update your address with the registrar each time you move to keep your voter registration valid, regardless of the address you use as your legal residence."
A tad more measured and informative, wouldn't you say? Well you might, and I certainly would, but it seems E. Randall Wertz, general registrar of elections, has a hard time discerning the difference. Gee, he informed the press when asked about this release, his office was only trying to counteract the random, willy-nilly registration of hundreds of college students around the state, without a thought as to detailing which address people should give as their home address and how doing so could be the end of Western Civilization as we know it. When asked to explain the rather intimidating and misleading directive issued by his very office, he explained it thusly:
“What’s happening is they’re going out across campus over here and just getting people to sign the registration forms left and right and not telling them issues to consider, or telling them the incorrect information... Before they make the decision to register with us, they need to check with the accountant who does the taxes. They need to check if they’re on their parents’ health insurance. By being at a separate permanent address, does that affect their insurance?”
(GASP!) Heaven's to Mergatroid, Petunia! Do you mean to tell me that there are multitudes of college students in Virginia who are being left to fend for themselves when it comes to picking a permanent address for the purposes of legal documents? Might they have to actually go on to the Registrar's website and scan for the secret answer to the question (so artfully hidden by the cleverly coded wording "What is my legal residence?") all on their own?

Let me clue Mr. Wertz in on something, since maybe he's a young-looking 180 years old and out of college since just before the Civil War. By the time today's college students have actually reached college (and I say this as a college student who is currently filling out YET ANOTHER application for a graduate program), they've filled out at least a dozen forms requiring a permanent address (along with full legal name, Social Security number, favorite TeleTubby and chewing gum flavor preference), most of the forms regarding their student loans, grants and scholarships. Why, for God's sake, the FAFSA alone is enough to give a crash course in what constitutes legal residency vs. physical residency. Discuss it with the accountant? Bitch, please. You discuss it the accountant, Mr. Wertz. The average person who has reached college is, unlike yourself, worldly enough to figure out that a Virginia Tech dorm room doesn't constitute his or her legal address. Because they live in the real world, and have real thoughts flowing through their fecund young minds. (They're mostly thoughts about keggers, spring break and "Girls Gone Wild" at the moment, but that's another blog post entirely, isn't it.)

I was going to request that we write or call Mr. Wertz' office to see if we couldn't help him to understand how seriously brain-damaged misguided he is. But when I went to his government webpage, I found this entry, dated August 27th, after the originally hostile statement was issued (italics and underline are mine).
"The Montgomery County Registrar’s office does not have a position on whether registering to vote in Montgomery County will have an effect on students’ benefits, such as health insurance, financial aid,scholarships, or taxes. Indeed, the Registrar’s Office is prohibited from offering any advice on these issues. Questions regarding the effect -- if any -- that registering to vote in Montgomery County will have on a student’s benefits should be directed to the entity administering those benefits."
Apparently, the lawyers got there before we did, so I guess we'll just let poor Mr. Wertz alone for the moment. I almost feel bad for him. Almost. Except for the part where he's an agent for the Devil. You remember that Devil, don't you? The one that we ran up against in 2000? And then again in 2004?

I'm not saying that all Republicans are evil. Some of best friends are Republicans, and conservative ones at that. I'm saying that the party machine is evil. The DNC might be insensitive, myopic and too erudite for its own good, but the RNC is just plain rotten to the core. We need to kick their wicked handmaidens to the curb on election day.

To steal a quote from the financial section of one of Virginia's leading newspapers, The Richmond Times-Dispatch, national unemployment may have to "get worse before it gets better." Join me, please, in raising the unemployment rate just a little bit more come November.

~C~

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