Millions of Americans somehow manage to vote despite having to work on election day. Why can’t college students do the same?

NBC News reports:

‘This election is everything’: College students push schools to cancel classes on Election Day

“This election is everything,” Tamir Harper said. “I’m a 2000s baby. I’ve lived through everything — 9/11, wars, and now a historic presidency and also a pandemic.”

Harper, a junior at American University, is one of many students across the country who lobbied their colleges to make Election Day an academic holiday.

In a Sept. 20 tweet, Harper called on the university to cancel classes to allow students to be able to vote in person and also volunteer as poll workers. As the tweet circulated, Harper organized an email campaign effort that led to over 175 emails being sent to university administration. Another student put together a petition, which reached over 500 signatures by the time it was sent to university administrators.

Harper’s efforts were a success. On Monday, American University announced its decision to cancel classes for Election Day, joining schools like Brown University, the University of Utah, and Colorado College who also gave students the time off.

Student leaders launched a similar grassroots effort at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Chris Suggs, the senior class president, said he does not expect the university system— composed of 16 colleges and one high school— to agree, but that many teachers have indicated they will let students take time off regardless.

Turnout among 18-to-24-year-olds voters has been historically low, just at 48.3% in the 2016 election, according to an analysis from Tufts University. Harper and student leaders like him are hoping that canceling classes will make voting more accessible.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.