As Madison Kimrey takes to the podium and is introduced, the crowd claps for her. Nervously she laughs, stating, “I just got ten time more nervous” and the crowd laughs, clearly enchanted with this young “suffragette’s” commanding presence before them. Madison, however, is there for business and she wastes no time in getting to why she is speaking.
A native of Alamance North Carolina and founder of North Carolina Youth Rock (an organization dedicated to reestablishing pre-registration for young voters in her home state), Kimrey was invited to speak at the Alamance NAACP Moral Monday: protests against the actions of the state’s Republican-run government.
Upset with the current legislation that was passed regarding voter identification and pre-registration for young voters, Kimrey is calling out Governor Pat McCrory (R-NC) for signing the state General Assembly’s, House Bill 589 (click on the link to see the full bill).
“We have leaders here in our state,” said Kimrey, “who have shown that, not only do they want to reduce the amount of participation by young people in our government, they also want to dismiss and belittle our voice.”
Kimrey’s complaint has little to do with other portions of the Bill (in which same day registration is completely eliminated, student ID’s no longer serve as proper identification, and early voting is reduced by a week) but she is incensed over the elimination of pre-registration stating: “we young people have a serious leadership problem in North Carolina.”
Participation of young people within our governmental system is integral to the foundation of a fair and just Democracy. The only way that we can begin to help insure that young people are aware of what is going on is to make it simpler for them to register for elections.
Pat McCrory feels differently regarding the matter, and in fact it seems that most Republicans within the great state of North Carolina agree with him, having (according to Kimrey) refused to meet with her on the basis that she is too young.
The idea of pre-registration for 17- and 16-year-olds seems to be pretty ridiculous where Republicans are concerned. Kim Wyman, Washington state Secretary of State (currently the only member of the Republican party elected to state-wide office on the West Coast) spoke about her two major concerns, as she stated: “how do we protect our minor children from having their personal data exposed… the second… is we are gonna be capturing data that we won’t use for two years, when this group is going to be the most mobile of their life.”
These might sound like reasonable things to be worried about, but if you consider the fact that most 16- and 17-year-olds are either already in some sort of public system (whether it is Facebook, Email, the yellow pages online, or just school enrollment), the point is moot. It also sounds like Ms. Wyman would wish to disallow student who are going to be extremely mobile in the coming years from registering early. Her logic is questionable considering that allowing students who will be extremely mobile in the coming years to pre-register before the craziness of college begins would facilitate the voter registration process.
This sentiment is clearly seconded by North Carolina Republicans, in their (what seems to be successful) attempt at blocking pre-registration in House bill 589, and in the NC Senate Bill 667 provision that states college student’s parents would be taxed for their child having registered with their campus address rather than with a parents’ home address, once again making it more difficult for students and young people, to register to vote.
Kimrey is outraged by the lack of leadership and the blatant disregard for the youth in the current political system. She has made it her mission to reverse the effects of the current bill.
“I’m going to do everything I can,” Kimrey said, “to get the opportunity for North Carolina’s teenagers to pre-register back by the time I turn sixteen!”
This is certainly a pressing issue; with the subjugation of the youth and their ability to be involved in a process that determines the future of their lives, it is imperative that proclaimed “leaders” like Governor McCrory listen to those that are interested in the proceedings regarding their ability to vote: even if the cry of injustice comes from the mouth of babes.
Kimrey is certainly an exceptional young woman, but we mustn’t forget that while this twelve year old is crying out and making sure her voice is heard, there are others like her who are intrigued by the political system, trying to pay attention, and at the same time are silenced, or not considered important enough, because of their age and lack of experience.
The issue of pre-registration should also be imperative to those of us at college. While our lives may be unpredictable right now, voting is still an important right. If North Carolina voting legislation is going to serve as any kind of national precedent, those of us entering college before we turn eighteen had better pay attention and claim the right to early registration before our voices are silenced.
This girl, and this is both maddening and wonderfully inspiring, is probably paying more attention to the system that affects her than a majority of college students, and those at college can actually vote. Madison Kimrey definitely presents an interesting perspective on who is actually paying attention, and whether or not we’re giving them due consideration.
For more information, or certainly a different analysis of the North Carolina voting laws, check out the links listed below.
(The Young Turks)
(North Carolina General Assembly)
(Voting Rights Act of 1965)
(Madison Kimrey Video)
(On only Republican on West Coast).
(Parent Taxation for Campus Voting)
(North Carolina’s Official Website)