Vote Everywhere Removes Voting Barriers in Louisiana

The Andrew Goodman Foundation (AGF) announced today that its national Vote Everywhere program has achieved a major victory. Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere Ambassadors at Louisiana State University (LSU) Valencia Richardson, Madison Melancon and Kaylin Parker, together with students from LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, have successfully introduced, supported, and passed a bill that will make voting more accessible to approximately 139,000 Louisiana State students.

HB940, which was signed into law earlier this week by Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, will require state-funded institutions of higher learning to issue student IDs that meet all Louisiana voter ID requirements. Thanks to this new legislation Louisiana State students will now be able to use their student IDs as eligible voter ID.

Governor John Edwards signs HB940, a bill making student IDs sufficient for use as voter ID, with Ambassadors Valencia Richardson (r) and Madison Melancon (l).

“Louisiana four-year public college students all have a state-issued ID that until this point did not have all the requirements to be voter ID eligible. Now that the bill has passed and was signed into law, over one hundred thousand students–about 30,000 on LSU’s main campus alone–can use their student badges to register to vote,” says recent LSU graduate and Vote Everywhere Ambassador Team Leader, Valencia Richardson of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Getting the bill on the Governor’s desk was no small feat. The LSU Vote Everywhere team began the process by working with graduate students from the Manship School of Mass Communication at LSU to research the topic. “When they had a draft research paper, I invited a member of the state House, Rep. Chris Broadwater (R-Hammond) to meet with the students. He posed many tough question, which led to more research and ultimately helped strengthened their case,” says Robert Mann, LSU faculty member and AGF Campus Champion, who served as an advisor to the LSU Vote Everywhere team.

Once the research was complete, the bill was introduced by Rep. Randal Gaines (D-LA 57th District). Valencia Richardson, who has served as AGF Ambassador since 2014, testified on behalf of the legislation and helped rally support for the bill by meeting with LSU President F. King Alexander and Louisiana Secretary of State Tom Schedler.

“The Andrew Goodman Foundation played a crucial role in this process. Because of Valencia’s experience working on these issues as a Vote Everywhere Ambassador, she was an expert on voting rights in Louisiana. She not only had enormous credibility when speaking with legislators, other state officials, student government and higher education officials; she also had existing relationship with many of these people because of her previous work in this area,” said Robert Mann.

“It’s amazing to know our hard work will result in impacting thousands of future LSU students,” says Richardson who graduated from LSU this Spring. “They say you are supposed to leave things better than you left them, and I can proudly say that I am an LSU graduate who left a solid impact on future students. It’s an indescribable feeling when all your literal blood, sweat and tears convert into tangible results. Also a wonderful graduation present!”

This legislation comes just weeks before the 52nd anniversary of the murder of Andrew Goodman, a young activist who lost his life during Freedom Summer 1964. Established to continue Andrew’s legacy, The Andrew Goodman Foundation partners with America’s colleges and universities through its Vote Everywhere program, which provides student leaders with a platform to register and mobilize voters, organize campuses, and collaborate with their peers.

“We are heartened by this development which gives more young people access to the ballot and continues to bring the next generation into our great nation’s tradition of democratic participation,” said David Goodman, President of the Andrew Goodman Foundation.

“Unfortunately, this law does not cover certain state schools or private colleges in Louisiana where students still cannot use their student IDs as eligible registration and voting ID.  We expect that Dillard College, a private Vote Everywhere school in Louisiana, and other such institutions with properly issued IDs will follow LSUs example and advocate for the same treatment,” added Goodman.