UK should close on every election day, not just presidential years


Kernel Opinion SIG

A little over two years from today, UK will close its doors for classes on Tuesday, Nov. 3, for the 2020 presidential election.

While the presidential election is considered an academic holiday at UK, midterm elections are not; class will still be in session. This is not right.

Midterm elections are just as important as presidential elections. The ability to vote for federal, state and local offices without stressing to get to the polls between school, work and other extracurriculars should be mandatory.

Some will say that if voting is important, you’ll find a way to get to the polls – but unfortunately, this isn’t true for everyone. Take my situation, for example.

Polling stations are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

I live in Georgetown, Kentucky, and commute to Lexington for classes. On average, it takes one hour to commute each way due to traffic. On Tuesdays this school semester, I have class continuously from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and a mandatory editor meeting for the Kernel at 8:20 a.m., meaning I leave for campus at 7:20 a.m.

Obviously with needing to leave by 7:20 in the morning, I must wake up before that to get ready, which is usually around 6:20. I might have time to vote if I were to wake up at 5:45 a.m. and arrive at my polling station by 6, but should this be necessary? Including travel time, I already have a 15-hour day on Tuesdays – I should not have to worry about adding an additional hour to my already too-long day to vote.

I also don’t have time to make the drive home due to traffic and short breaks between classes.

My editor-in-chief at the Kernel will graciously allow me to skip the mandatory editor meeting that Tuesday to vote, but I shouldn’t have to. I understand my unfortunate circumstance probably isn’t widespread at UK, but I know this situation doesn’t just include myself; there’s someone else at UK struggling with this same issue I am, and it isn’t right.

I will do everything I can to exercise my right to vote, for every election, no matter my circumstance. Voting is a right we should all be able to easily exercise, and UK should understand that midterm elections are just as important as presidential ones. Give students the same one-day break you do for the presidential elections for midterms to relax and vote without worrying about getting to their polling station in time. I don’t think this is too much to ask. And maybe the number of college-aged voters will increase, too.