OurView: St. Edward’s must make Election Day holiday to improve voter turnout


Juan Diaz / Hilltop Views

If you are registered to vote in Travis County, you may cast your ballot on campus at the UFCU Alumni Gym on election day, Nov, 3, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Although campus is empty, polls shouldn’t be. Hilltoppers, if they are able, should be making their way to early voting locations now, or have a solid plan on how to cast their ballot by Nov. 3. 

Putting the pandemic aside, the university should always be closed on one specific day: Election Day. With voter suppression measures on the rise in Texas, students and staff don’t need another obstacle that will prevent their voice from being heard.

In the high-stress environment of college, students tend to struggle to focus on anything outside of school. Especially in early November, students are preoccupied with which tests are around the corner or which paper is due next week. Even given the stereotype that college students are highly politically active, only 48% of college students voted in the 2016 presidential election, 13% lower than the national average. 

Aside from school, many students also work a job or two to support themselves, so their days are completely filled, leaving no time to go wait in line to vote. St. Edward’s can help to alleviate this problem by instituting a campus-wide holiday on voting day and encouraging professors to lessen workloads near Election Day so that students are not preoccupied with studying or writing papers. 

St. Edward’s has about 3,388 undergraduate students currently enrolled. While that may not seem like a large number, think of the impact that even this amount of students would have, especially on local elections that are so important to our community. Students as a whole face a lot of adversity and deserve a chance to make some change. 

Establishing a school holiday would not only benefit students. Professors, coaches, dining hall employees and all other university staff would get the opportunity to vote. Among registered voters during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, being too busy or having a scheduling conflict was the third highest reason for not voting, which accounted for 14% of registered voters. While 14% might not seem like a high number, it amounts to about 2.7 million people. Think of the impact that 2.7 million people have — it’s incredible. Not creating a national holiday on Election Day is a form of voter suppression, and until Election Day is made a national holiday, St. Edward’s administration should take action to increase voter turnout within its community. 

If St. Edward’s made Election Day a school holiday, it might not ensure that everyone’s voice will be heard, but it would definitely be a step in the right direction. By not creating a space for students and faculty to easily express their politics, St. Edward’s University is falling short of its motto, “Take on your world.”