University prepares for Election Day

by Shelbi Voss

The 2020 Presidential Election is fast approaching and voter registration is being heavily promoted. As most college-aged students have yet to vote in a Presidential election, a number of campaigns have been enacted to encourage young people to vote. The University of Illinois is reaching out to its student population to do the same.

On Monday, in honor of National Voter Registration Day, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Danita M. B. Young sent an email to students notifying them of different registration opportunities and ways to be involved in the election. She highlighted the university’s participation in the “All In” Big Ten Challenge and provided links to registration and voting information.

The “All In” Big Ten Challenge is a competition between the 14 schools in the Big Ten Conference. The top two prizes, “Greatest Overall Turnout” and “Greatest Increase in Voting Rates” are presented to institutions, but students, faculty and staff also have the opportunity to win individual awards for their voter participation. According to the “All In” website, the campus democracy challenge was created in an effort to help students become informed citizens, encourage democratic participation on campuses, and “cultivate generations of engaged citizens who are essential to a healthy democracy.”

Vice Chancellor Young also invited students to join the “All In” Campus Couch Party, a virtual text banking event to spread awareness of voter registration across campuses.

The email also mentioned the “All In” pledge, an online platform that not only allows voters to take a voting pledge, but provides resources for registration, ballot requests, state rules and opportunities to get involved in the public sphere.

The Illinois Student Affairs website offers a number of voting resources and civic engagement opportunities. Students can apply for an election judge position at https://airtable.com/shrBa205XAw3faPDx and can find candidate information for both local and state elections and learn more about the Big Ten voting challenge at https://sse.illinois.edu/civic-engagement/.

The University Senate is also preparing for the upcoming election. On Monday the senate announced that Election Day is now a campus holiday and no classes will be held on Tuesday, November 3. The decision was made in relation to Governor J.B. Pritzker’s recent bill recognizing Election Day as a state holiday. The change to the 2020-21 Academic Calendar was made as an exception to the current policy, which states that “There shall be no fewer than 14 of each instructional day per semester and 13 weeks that have five full weeks of instruction.”

The deadline for online registration in the State of Illinois is October 18 and in-person registration is available through November 3.