Approved by the: Student Senate - May 3, 2012
Administration - no action required*
Board of Regents - no action required

*The administration does not support the Resolution on Excused Absence for Election Day Voting. The Senate Committee on Educational Policy (SCEP) discussed this issue in May 2012 and did not support the proposal. Given the hours that polling places are open on election day, it is not believed that attendance at classes precludes a student from voting. If students believe they will be unable to get to a polling place, we urge them to vote by absentee ballot. The University is communicating with students about the expectation of class attendance on election day and the details of how to vote.

Resolution on Excused Absence for Election Day Voting

The University of Minnesota Student Senate recommends to the President that the University revise its policy regarding legitimate absences to include voting in local, state, or national elections as a legitimate absence for which students will not be penalized.

COMMENT:

The Senate Committee on Student Affairs (SCSA) moves the above resolution for the Student Senate. The SCSA believes that voting is a basic right guaranteed to voting-age students at the University of Minnesota; and many students encounter difficulties in scheduling time for voting due to constraints including commuting, and academic and extracurricular commitments.

The Minnesota Public Interest Research Group reports that not having sufficient time to vote is the top reason students give for failing to vote. Revising the University's policy would help ensure students have the time to exercise this basic civil duty and would increase the number of students participating in the democratic process.

Moreover, Minnesota State Statute Section 204C.04 gives every employee who is eligible to vote the right to "be absent from work for the time necessary to appear at the employee's polling place, cast a ballot, and return to work on the day of that election, without penalty or deduction from salary or wages because of the absence." The SCSA believes students should be accorded a similar right to vote without risk of academic penalty.



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