Kentucky’s midterm elections are coming up on Nov. 6. Despite the majority of EKU students being of voting age, classes are still in session on election day, making it difficult for students to get to the polls and exercise their right to vote. Cancelling classes on election day can only be beneficial for the political involvement of students and faculty alike.
At the last midterm election in 2014, the voter turnout for ages 18-24 was only 21.9 percent. One explanation for this incredibly low number is that students cannot get out of class during the day to vote before the polls close. Cancelling classes on election day would absolutely raise this percentage because it would free up time for students to participate in the election.
Cancelling class for voting purposes would benefit students, but it would also benefit faculty. Professors are as bound to their course schedule as students are, and if they are teaching all day then they will not be able to get to the polls either.
Voting is a constitutional right, and therefore it is the responsibility of the university to enable students and employees to participate in the elections as much as possible.
To be fair, Kentucky state law mandates that university employees are allowed to take time off to vote. However, that same courtesy is not extended to students who could not vote unless they missed a portion of classes that day.
Many professors penalize students for missing class regardless of the reason, which discourages students from skipping class to vote.
Eastern isn’t the only school that holds classes on election day. In fact, not once state school in Kentucky has cancelled classes for midterm elections. This is a gross disservice to students and faculty alike who deserve the chance to get to the polls and have their voice heard.
Cancelling classes on election day is an incredibly important step that EKU could take in encouraging both students and faculty to participate in local, state, and national politics.