As we enter into the fall and the final stretch of the presidential campaign season, the reality that a national election will be held on November 3rd is starting to settle in. For most Americans, Election Day can often feel as if it’s just like any other Tuesday. The usual responsibilities of daily life — work, classes, family, etc. — don’t disappear.
The only difference is that this year, possibly upwards of sixty percent of those citizens who are at least eighteen years old will also have voted by mail-in ballot or will find their way to the voting booth. With so many people planning on participating and with projections from both ends of the political spectrum expecting record-breaking turnout, how can we pretend it’s just a regular Tuesday?
Villanova University prides itself on its values and mission, both of which emphasize the importance of community involvement, “responsible and productive citizenship,” and igniting change in our everyday lives. In the last year, the Student Government Association has worked with various offices and departments to establish the #Let’sVoteNova initiative, which is aimed at promoting civic engagement, organizing voter registration, and providing election day information. Clearly there’s some desire to get involved and get-out-the-vote.
On or before November 3rd, however, there will be dozens of reasons for Villanovans to choose not to vote or engage. And while some of these may be solved by building awareness about registration, polling place locations, and the mail-in ballot process, only a resounding celebration of our constitutional right to choose how we are governed can combat the social pressures and downright apathy that affect college students during an election.
While this is an argument for all classes to be cancelled, Election Day this year should by no means be a “day-off.” Making November 3rd a holiday at Villanova would allow students, faculty, staff, and administration the freedom to canvass for a candidate or the flexibility to volunteer as a poll worker. It would provide our community with the opportunity to talk about the issues that matter to us as individuals and as a campus and to learn more about what faces our nation in the next four years regardless of who occupies the Oval Office or Congress.
We can spend a day rejecting vicious, divisive partisanship and embrace the commonality of our nation’s democratic purpose and principles. Villanova can set an example for what Election Day should and could be for our country.
While it might still look like an average Tuesday, this election will be like no other we’ve witnessed in our history. We simply cannot let that pass us by. So even if we must still attend classes, make sure you don’t forget to register to vote and to cast your vote, either in-person or by mail-in. Engage in conversations about policy or politics. Speak up for the issues you believe in and lend time to causes or candidates you support. Do your civic duty and ignite change at the ballot box this November 3rd.