ASUCD Deems Election Day as a Non-Instructional Holiday at UC Davis

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By Diana Zhu

DAVIS – On Jan. 14, the ASUCD Senate Resolution #6 passed, deeming Election Day as a Non-Instructional Holiday at UC Davis.

This resolution addresses the low student voting turnout, including reasons and facts behind these numbers.

According to the resolution, the following were the reasons:

Among 32 countries, the U.S. ranks 26th for voter turnout. In the 2016 presidential election, 55.7 percent of the American voting-age population cast ballots, while Belgium reported 87.2 percent of their voting-age population cast ballots in their most recent national election.

In a 2016 study among registered voters, being “too busy or having conflicting schedules” was the third-highest reason cited for not voting, accounting for 2.7 million people who did not cast a ballot.

College-aged voters have been historically underrepresented in Election Day voter counts because of course-induced time constraints and restrictions.

Not all college students have equal access to participating in the democratic process due to factors such as student-parenting roles, necessary jobs and familial obligation, which could mean not having access to a polling station or having the time to meet the hours-long waiting periods as seen in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections.

ASUCD said mail-in ballot voting is not an equitable practice for college students because students may not live long-term in the address marked on their voter registration forms.

Adding to the barriers are students who are penalized for any absences.

The resolution also stated that studies have shown that voting at a young age increases one’s likelihood of voting in future elections.

The University of California prides itself on being “committed to helping our community participate in the civic process” and asserts “Democracy thrives when we’re all engaged”, thus, the University of California entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the California Secretary of State to increase student civic engagement, including voter turnout.

In 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 963 to the Memorandum of Understanding, stating that “the Secretary of State, in partnership with the California Community Colleges, the California State University, and the University of California, shall conduct a program to be known as the Student Civic and Voter Empowerment Program,” which further supports an action plan put forth by the students of each campus “to increase civic learning and democratic participation, with an emphasis on civic engagement, voter turnout, and community building.”

While these plans proved to increase rates of student voting, the plan and Memorandum of Understanding did not fully eradicate the barriers students face to cast their ballots because of course penalties.

UC Davis had a singular on-campus polling site in the 2020 presidential election, which was on the second floor of the Memorial Union building, and this had the potential to have students endure long lines, forcing them to choose between voting and course attendance.

One student was lucky to have been able to be one of the first ones in line. By the time she left the polling site, the line of students had wrapped around the stairs to the first floor.

She said many people that saw her walk out with her “I Voted” sticker would stop her to ask how long she was there, and they continued to express their worry that they would miss class.

She said students hoped it would take less than an hour, but it seemed the further back someone was in the line, the longer it was going to take.

The campus voter coalition, Aggies Vote, saw an increasing number of requests from full-time students about information in regard to absentee ballots, including them being sent on time.

Despite the worries, the November 2020 general election saw a record number of 1,485 new voter registrations at UC Davis, showing an increase in civic participation on campus.

On top of this, many institutions have already declared Election Day to be a non-instructional campus holiday.

Numerous higher education institutions including Columbia University, the University of Hawaii Manoa, Brown University and the Community College of Philadelphia have all declared Election Days to be non-instructional campus holidays.

The resolution said various student leaders at higher education institutions including Stanford University, UC Berkeley and Harvard University have all passed resolutions in their student governments calling for Election Day to be regarded as a non-instructional campus holiday.

The resolution stated that the UC Student Association is carrying out the UC We Vote campaign that is pushing Election Day’s classification as a non-instructional holiday across the UC.

Having Election Day as a non-instructional campus holiday would free up time for more students to vote, therefore mobilizing present-day voters and increasing their likelihood to participate in democracy in the future.

According to the resolution, “The ASUCD as a whole will holistically prioritize increasing voter registration and civic engagement in collaboration with initiatives and organizations such as the campus Government and Community Relations Office, Aggies Vote Campus Voter Coalition, the Office of the External Affairs Vice President, and the UCWeVote Campaign.”

There were no finance appropriations, and the resolution was amended with the majority vote.

Diana Zhu is a fourth-year transfer student from Rancho Cucamonga, CA. She is majoring in Chinese and minoring in Professional Writing.


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10 thoughts on “ASUCD Deems Election Day as a Non-Instructional Holiday at UC Davis”

  1. Ron Glick

    An excellent idea and when these students, our best and brightest, go on to be the leaders of tomorrow, they will remember when they were in college and got the day off to vote. Hopefully they will want to extend the same courtesy to those who they will supervise in those future leadership positions.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Not such a good idea… more teaches that you don’t need to vote if it is even slightly inconvenient… there were two (at least) “non-instructional days” available to students in November… the Saturday and Sunday before Nov 3… I know, I worked a polling place…

      There is also VBM…

      The proposal is a scam… false information (maybe looking for creds to work for Q-Anon?)… no need to take “the day off” to vote… it’s strictly male bovine manure to assert otherwise… we had many students voting in person between classes… college is not an all-day affair for the vast majority of students…

      1. Eric Gelber

        Not such a good idea… more teaches that you don’t need to vote if it is even slightly inconvenient …

        Or, alternatively, it emphasizes the importance that is placed on voting. In the face of widespread voter suppression efforts, it’s important to encourage and facilitate voting, even in small ways.

  2. Don Shor

    Great to have election day as an instructional holiday, and eventually perhaps as a national holiday as is done in other countries. We should make every effort to make it easier for everyone to vote. Getting young adults in the habit makes it likelier, in my opinion, that they will continue to vote regularly through their lives.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Gee… that must be why spouse and I have voted in pretty much every election since we were eligible… but the younger folk need a day off to learn to do the same… absolutely a “brilliant concept”… the young adults of today, must be far less intelligent or motivated than we were, and need all the spoon-feeding we can give them…

      This is a ‘stupid’ idea, and unnecessary, and does not guarantee or ensure any UCD student will register and vote… particularly given VBM, and the voting centers, which were fully open for 4 consecutive) days in November… (inc. a Sat and a Sun…)

  3. Tia Will

    I think it will be interesting to see if this actually results in increased student voting. If it does, it will have cost nothing and will result in increased participation. If it does not, it can be reversed. I am surprised people seem so committed to its supposed effect, positive or negative.

  4. Bill Marshall

    UC Davis had a singular on-campus polling site in the 2020 presidential election, which was on the second floor of the Memorial Union building, and this had the potential to have students endure long lines, forcing them to choose between voting and course attendance.

    Inane reason… anyone (registered voter, or same day registration) in Yolo County could vote in any VAC center, anywhere in the County (there were 4, between the one on campus, and the three in the City ‘proper’, as well as ~ 12 more elsewhere in the County).  They were open four days, including a Saturday and a Sunday… no choice needed to be made between voting and course attendance.  Except for ‘opening times’ where folk queued before the polls opened, there was never more than 5 in line… ususally 0-2… even then, max was 21 (opening time, first day, a Saturday)… this was @ VMC where I worked the 4 days, and yes, I actually counted…

    [edited]

  5. Alan Miller

    The proposal is a scam… false information… no need to take “the day off” to vote… it’s strictly male bovine manure to assert otherwise…

    Agree WM at 12:46 p.m. above, total scam.  One major cause of students not voting that wasn’t mentioned is:  not giving a d*mn.  As well, voting itself takes very little time, as what takes time is studying the issues, and I’d be surprised if all but a fraction of students won’t put issues before study nor socializing – even with a day off.  If you want robotic votes for Donkeys who don’t fill out the propositions or check issues off with a quick title read, maybe you’ve increased the D vote percentage yet again, assuring Dem super majority and power forever.

    Fore thine, California, is the Democratic Kingdom, and the Power, and Super Majority Forever.  Amen.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Your affirmation is spot on… as far as same day registrations, other students, over the four days, at least a dozen said they only want to vote for one thing (we don’t ask, they blurted it out!)… the Presidentitial ticket… not CC, not State/local props…

      I am a strong proponent of voting, across the board… but my negative Jiminy Cricket whispers, be careful what you promote… those who are single issue, single party, don’t read/get informed/think about candidates or other issues, whose news sources are Q-Anon or other ‘radicalized’ sources (uber-“progressive” or uber-conservative) , my ‘bad angels’ tell me to not care if they vote at all… in darker moments, I hope they don’t!  But I try to focus on the whispers from my ‘better angels’…

      And you give good hints as to why I’m NPP. Still the second highest ‘party’ registrations in CA… Republicans are third.

      And Alan… when I was a college freshman, I read EVERYTHING in the materials… surprising?  Perhaps I was an “out-lier”… first voted when I was 18 yr-2 days old… first yr 18 year-old were permitted to vote…

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