This is a big election and we are reminded of it every day. Voting is complicated with new rules in some states and extra safety precaution. College students on campuses across the country would like to see Election Day treated like a holiday with no classes.
On September 20 Tamir Harper took to Twitter to urge his college, American University in Washington DC (AU) to cancel classes to facilitate in person voting and allow young people to work the polls.
Kayla Kelly a freshman at American University created a petition to make AU non-instructional on Election Day. the petition garnered over 500 signatures. In addition to the petition, Kayla reached out and met with the AU administration to tell them that one-on-one about the importance of students practicing their civic duty.
His efforts were rewarded when the college agreed to suspend classes for the day, joining other colleges like Brown University and Colorado College, which are doing the same.
Historically young people have not shown active involvement in elections, voting at lower rates than those over the age of 25. But this year there has been a heavy push to inform and register young voters, encourage them to work at the polls on Election Day (as they are a lower risk population) and remind them of the options for mail-in or in-person voting.
Many colleges have decided that one of the best ways they can aid the voting of their students is to open polling places right on campus. The University of Georgia announced that the basketball arena will be used as a polling place, Binghamton University moved to a larger space to accommodate voting on campus, Grand Valley State will have polling places on campus for 3 weeks and UT Austin had on campus voter registration drives and its student groups are hoping to operate the on-campus polling stations at all hours.
The pandemic threatened to make it more difficult for our young people to vote, but it seems many colleges and universities have risen to the challenge of creating an easy way for students to be active participants in our democracy.
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