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LSU Students: Classes Limit Voting On Election Day

This story was written by Ellen Zielinski, The Daily Reveille

Ryan Keller said he wont be able to drive home to New Orleans to vote today because of his classes.

I have to go to all of them, said Keller, LSU business junior. If I skipped, Id fall behind because [my professors] dont do PowerPoints or anything, so I wouldnt get my notes.

Keller said he didnt think about absentee voting because it wasnt advertised well enough, and he couldnt have participated anyway because its his first election.

University Registrar Robert Doolos said Election Day has never been a university holiday, and no special guidance is given to instructors about Tuesday.

Whether class is held or not is the decision of the instructor, Doolos said.

Doolos also said there has been no discussion to make Election Day a school holiday in future years, even though 10 of LSUs peer flagship universities have made Election Day a university holiday.

Because the university does not give students the day off, some students are opting to stay at school and attend classes rather than cast a ballot.

Id like to [vote], but I dont see it happening, said Jeff Bandera, computer engineering junior. It would be my first presidential election, so Im a little disappointed.

Other students will be working around their schedules to visit the polling station.

Jenna Schumann, fashion merchandising sophomore, said her busy schedule means she has to miss school and work to vote because she plans to drive home to Destrehan. She said she doesnt understand why the University didnt cancel classes to allow students to vote in the general elections.

Its one day every four years, and its kind of a big deal, she said. We get off for Martin Luther King Day and different little holidays. I think picking the president of your country, you should get off of school and work for.

Some instructors have chosen to try to help students vote on Election Day. Maureen Foley, mass communication instructor, said her class is a news writing course, and she thought it would be a good use of time to go out and write a story about the election during class time.

Foleys students must submit the assignment by the end of the class period at 4 p.m., but Foley said she gave the assignment early, allowing students to work on it before Election Day and use their normal class time to go vote. She also said students could even use experiences at the polling stations to help write the story.

My hope is that this will give them time to vote, Foley said. I know they have other classes, but I made mine flexible because you can learn so much more from going out [to polling stations] and seeing it than learning about it in class.

Andrew Walker, psychology junior, said professors should give students leniency on Election Day since the University doesnt recognize it as a holiday.

Its important to promote students to vote, so I think its good to give them the opportunity to vote if school schedules are conflicting with that, Walker said. Our age demographic is essentially the future of the country, so I think its good to start our perspectives as early as we can.

Christopher Kenny, political science associate professor, said if he had his preference, Election Day would be a U.S. holiday. But he said having school should not hinder students from voting.

When I polled my [American government] class, over one-third of them had already voted, he said. I think more people are coming to the realization that they dont have to wait until Election Day to vote, especially since theyve already seen record numbers of early voting.

LSUs peer flagship universities making Elecion Day a school holiday include the universities of Rhode Island, Hawaii, Delaware, Kentucky, Montana, New Hampshire, South Carolina and West Virginia University.

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