U of M should prioritize student voting

Laura Pratt, MPIRG member

There are three seasons in Minnesota: construction, winter and elections. As October ends, all three approach quickly.

ItâÄôs certain that politicians across America have already begun preparations for the 2012 election cycle, and the University of Minnesota should do the same.

ThereâÄôs a glaring weakness in the UniversityâÄôs policy toward student voting that must be addressed before the 2012 election. That issue is the lack of excused absence voting.

Instituting this policy would mean that students who wish to vote would be excused from a half-day of class on Election Day. This would greatly increase the ease of student voting. It would also be exceptionally helpful for commuters, those in class for the majority of the voting day and those who are still registered to vote in their home districts.

IâÄôm among that last group. I registered to vote in my home district on my 18th birthday, thinking this would make my life easier come November, but I was wrong. With my class schedule and club commitments, it would be impossible for me to get home for this NovemberâÄôs election.

Because of this, I was forced to vote absentee this year. For those who have never done so, I can attest that this is no easy feat. One must register well in advance to do so and then jump through several hoops when going through the actual voting process.

I will always cast my vote, no matter how difficult the process is, but thatâÄôs not the norm for most people, especially on a college campus.

University leaders should take note of the intricacies of voting absentee and the near impossibility of managing to vote around studentsâÄô busy schedules. ItâÄôs these difficulties that keep students from voting, which is the most basic and important civic duty of Americans.

Opportunity for political involvement should be both simple and universal throughout Minnesota. I encourage the University to institute an excused absence voting policy. It will ease the lives of students, increase student voter turnout and encourage students to participate in and learn about basic democratic processes.

Minnesota needs this change. After all, âÄúbad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who donâÄôt vote.âÄù As University students, we all must cast our votes.