Prioritize student-voters: Change class schedule on Election Day

Photo credit: Gwen Ueding | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

Election Day takes place the first Tuesday after a Monday in November. Since 1964, 18- to 24-year-olds have traditionally had the lowest turnout rate. Like most schools, Baylor hosts a full day of classes on Election Day — and it certainly isn’t helping raise voter turnout for the student demographic that is constantly told “their vote matters.”

Every year, students who vote have to travel back to their hometowns, apply for an absentee ballot or alter their voter registration. These students either have to skip class, time out their schedule just right or utilize the weekend to vote early in order to have a say in our democracy.

With the majority of Baylor students being from Texas, it’s likely most of those registered voters are skipping school to drive back home just to vote and turn right back around. The current attendance policy only states that crises such as “serious illness, accident or death in the family” require professors to work with the student to make up for the work missed due to the absence. However, when it comes to voting, the policy is unforgiving, stating “the student bears the responsibility for the effect that absences may have.”

Instead, we propose classes be held online or canceled altogether in an effort to encourage students to participate in democracy. This action would not only reduce stress for traveling student-voters but also teach the whole student body how important it is to vote. During our first true step into independence, students are beginning to form habits that can last a lifetime, and the university plays a core role in teaching us how to be responsible citizens.

Through voting, Americans get a chance to impact what the future of their local community, state and nation will look like. If they miss Election Day, though, their voices get lost.

While other universities like the University of Texas, Texas A&M University and Texas State University host on-campus polling locations, Baylor offers nothing in order to keep voter rates up.

On-campus organizations already do as much as they can to get students registered, but registering to vote doesn’t mean there’s a true commitment to showing up to the ballot boxes. A more forgiving policy on Election Day would ensure a greater surge of student-voters.

Baylor administrators, reconsider how classes are conducted on Election Day so your students can have a voice in their future and not have to risk missing out on their education to do so.