A lack of civic investment from American citizens is a serious issue that has unfortunately snaked its way into the heart of our nation’s political infrastructure. There are problems throughout all parts of the government, but a large one can be found at the lowest level: the millions of eligible, absent voters.
Voting is the underlying foundation for change and growth in our nation. Every American citizen can have their voice be heard by simply voting for a candidate who best represents their views and will listen to their concerns.
According to a statistical analysis conducted by The New York Times, there are 221 million eligible voters in America. However, only 27 percent of eligible adults, approximately 60 million, voted in the 2016 primary elections. 73 percent of Americans do not get out to the polls on election day.
The list of reasons given by the 161 million absent voters is never ending, but some of those excuses are indeed valid. One of which is many voters can simply not make it out to the polls, because they either have work or classes to attend.
Polls tend to open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. in most states. With the uncertainty of traffic, work-related responsibilities and other general mishaps, it is very difficult for the average citizen to find the time to get to their designated voting location.
In the 2012 general election, less than 50 percent of youth voters aged 18 to 29 years voted based on results from national exit polls, demographic data and counts of votes cast collected by U.S. News and World Report.
UMBC could resolve this problem for students by canceling classes on election day.
By canceling classes, eligible UMBC youth voters would have more than enough time to get to their polls, most of which are within a reasonable distance of their residence. And in the case that a student is out-of-state, then they should be aware that the absentee ballots are due by Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Classes need only be canceled during general elections every four years. It is not as necessary for primary elections or midterm election. This would ultimately have little to no effect on the productivity and scheduling in universities.
Most colleges and universities encourage service and civil duty. UMBC’s vision statement even includes being “known for integrating research, teaching and learning and civic engagement so that each advances the others for the benefit of society.” Voting is a core tenet of civic engagement, yet UMBC has done nothing to remove barriers for student voters.
American citizens should be held responsible for the political state of their country, but UMBC should make it easy for all of their eligible voters to find their way to polls on election day by canceling classes.