With the Nov. 3 presidential election taking place in a little over a week, the tensions are rising. The race between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will directly impact young adults’ futures, signifying the importance of the youth vote.
Over 50 million Americans have voted, already exceeding the early-vote total for 2016, according to the U.S. Election Project. As of Oct. 21, more than 3 million young people have voted early or absentee in the 2020 elections, including more than 2 million in 14 key states that may decide the presidency and control of the United States Senate, according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. These are promising statistics that show that young people are eager to make their voices heard in this election. This is a big change from the 2016 presidential election when fewer than half of Americans age 18 to 29 voted.
As a higher education institution that attempts to foster civic engagement among its students, it is disappointing to see that the Ithaca College administration did not approve of the Student Governance Council’s efforts to do just that. The SGC passed the 2020 Ithaca College Voting Act and the Excused Absence for Poll Workers Recommendation on Oct. 5 with the goal of making voting more accessible for students.
Not everyone is able to vote early, and although polls are open late, some students have classes nearly all day. The Voting Act would have given students the flexibility to vote when they are able to on Election Day. Because so many students are living at home this year because of the remote semester, they actually have the opportunity to go to their local polling stations to vote. Excusing students to work at the polls should have also been accepted because it allows for students to be civically engaged.
It is even more disappointing that the college did not give a reason that the bills were not implemented. How can students be encouraged to propose their ideas if they are just going to be dismissed with no explanation? There needs to be a level of transparency and mutual respect, especially for students who take the time to come up with plans for actionable change at the college.
This election will affect students for years to come, and it is imperative that young adults vote if they want to have a say in their future. In the future, the college needs to be cognizant of this and create avenues that make it easier for students to vote on Election Day.