Give students time to vote

by Elizabeth Hoss - MPIRG member

One year from today Minneapolis voters will head to the polls to decide our president and every legislative seat, down to local races and even a ballot measure or two.

Today, let us consider the ways we can encourage our peers and ourselves to exercise our civic duty and ensure our voice is heard as a voting bloc. Today, let us consider the value of giving students flexibility on Election Day to make time to vote. Election Day is not a holiday in the U.S., but it is every citizenâÄôs right to vote.

This importance is already reflected in the Minnesota statute that allows every worker the ability to vote before noon without consequence or missed pay âÄî our professors and administrators included.

There are currently many circumstances that may inhibit a studentâÄôs ability to get in line at their polling location, commonly just a lack of time. From back-to-back class to needing to vote in their home district as a commuter, many students simply cannot schedule what is arguably the most important thing they could do on Election Day.

Minnesota has historically above-average participation in elections, students more so for presidential election years. As Minnesotans, we need to be thoughtful about the ways we can foster this value and institutionalize access for every eligible voter âÄî not just for 2012, but for creating the habit of voting for the younger population.

With this year, we have time to meaningfully evaluate the systems in place we can tailor to promote our right to vote.