Op-ed: Northeastern should have made Election Day a holiday

Op-ed%3A+Northeastern+should+have+made+Election+Day+a+holiday

Photo courtesy of Northeastern University College Republicans and Northeastern University College Democrats 

Co-authored by the Northeastern University College Democrats e-board and the Northeastern University College Republicans e-board

Election Day is a critically important occasion that impacts all Americans, but many still struggle to cast a vote. Many barriers to voting remain, including long wait times at polling stations, inaccessible poll hours and difficulty taking time off work or even securing mail-in ballots, depending on the state. As a result, a staggering 38.6 percent of the voting age population including 53.9 percent of young people (aged 18 to 29) didn’t vote in the 2016 presidential election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. One reason for this dismal turnout is the fact that Election Day is not a public holiday, and many people are unable to miss work or school to vote as a result. 

To encourage civic participation, it would have been critical for President Joseph E. Aoun to pass and implement SR-FA-20-101, a Senate resolution from Northeastern’s Student Government Association on establishing an Election Day holiday at Northeastern. The resolution would have canceled all classes on Election Day and declared Tuesday, Nov. 3, as a campus-wide election holiday for all students, faculty and staff. Unfortunately, the resolution was denied and classes will continue as scheduled. 

As a university that claims to encourage its community to engage in this year’s election, it is only fair that Northeastern grant students, faculty and staff the opportunity to visit the polls without undue burden. Moreover, many Northeastern students, including those ineligible to vote, are volunteering as poll workers to fill the national shortage at our own Matthews Arena and numerous other polling places across the country. 

Other major universities across the country, including Brown University, Colorado College and American University, have already canceled classes on Election Day. It is imperative that Northeastern do the same. Regardless of political leaning, socioeconomic status, race, gender or sexual orientation, no Northeastern student, faculty member or staff should feel that the university is impeding their ability to cast a ballot.

During the Student Government Association’s vote on Monday, Oct. 19, not a single SGA member voted against this legislation. Yet, President Aoun and the Northeastern administration denied passing it to declare Election Day, Nov. 3, a university-wide holiday. It would have been crucial not only for our success as civically engaged Northeastern community members, but also for the strength of our democracy. 

Signed,

Northeastern University College Democrats 

Northeastern University College Republicans