11/4/19 Purdue ID Reimbursement

The League of Women Voters worked with the Purdue ID card office to post this sign for students to get a reimbursement to get voting-eligible IDs. 

Only one student has asked to be reimbursed the $10 it costs to trade in their Purdue ID for one with a voting-eligible expiration date, said Ken Jones, chair of the League of Women Voters.

The League of Women Voters, a non-partisan advocacy group for civic participation and literacy, received requests from the community to provide funds for reimbursement for students.

Jones hopes new signage at the PUID office will help bring awareness that switching to a new ID can be reimbursed and can reach the approximately 850 out-of-state students who Jones predicted, using historical statistics, are interested in voting in Indiana.

Timothy Riley, assistant comptroller and bursar, said via email that the Purdue ID card office swapped out 505 IDs during the one week period Oct. 21-25 when students could switch to a voting eligible ID for free. 

The Tippecanoe County Board of Elections deemed student IDs noncompliant with Indiana voting ID requirements earlier this summer because of their lack of an expiration date. This particularly impacted 12,000 out-of-state students who could no longer vote with their current IDs, Jones said.

"I think what happened this summer was generally a shock to a lot of people in this community," Jones said. "After 10 years of having a workable system for producing students voting in local elections, there was a new interpretation in town, and that it was going to be pretty difficult for out-of-state students to vote."

Jones said that "the state never intended to charge for IDs to vote" because they gave the opportunity for people to get a free voter ID at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. However, out-of-state students must trade in their state ID or driver license to get the free voter ID from the BMV, Jones said. Purdue reduced the fee for replacing an ID from $25 to $10 and is phasing the new IDs in with the next freshman class in fall 2020. Each card costs about $3 to make, according to Riley.

Potential free swap weeks in the spring and fall of next year have been discussed, but not finalized, Riley said. 

"The ID card office is an auxiliary so they are not supported by general funds at this point in time," Riley said. "That's why they try to be careful to make sure that they're making their budget yearly. So I don't know if we can do it completely free (all of the time)."

Riley said that the office was surprised by the change in ID policy and will continually work to serve the student body. 

"The University wants to be very careful to make sure that we stay out of the voting business because that was not what the ID was created for," Riley said. "But obviously we want to do what we can to assist the students and make it easy for the students to participate in the local elections."

Jones emphasized the importance of students as members of the community.

"Right now think about it," Jones said. "There are West Lafayette city council districts that are only student districts ... You want a voice? Your voice has been given to you."

The League of Women Voters is working to partner with organizations like the Purdue Votes Coalition.

"Our intention is to turn out thoughts and talents and efforts and partner with partners to make student voting a much more common thing at Purdue," Jones said. "We're just beginning."

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