A Tuscaloosa local, and now the president of Vote Everywhere UA, is petitioning for The University of Alabama to give students, faculty and staff the day off for federal election days with the hopes of eliminating voting barriers in Tuscaloosa.

College campuses across the country are canceling classes to give their communities the day off to vote, but only one other school in the SEC has implemented this rule so far. Alli Swann says if UA makes federal election days a campus holiday, it will put the University of Alabama, and subsequently Tuscaloosa, on the cutting edge of civic engagement across the SEC.

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“Being from Tuscaloosa, I think it makes a big impact on the community because not only will this day off of classes benefit students and give them the chance to vote, it doesn’t just have to be a day off, but it can be a day on,” Swann said. “It can be a day for students to volunteer as poll workers in Tuscaloosa and it can be a day for students to do community service projects around Tuscaloosa."

In Tuscaloosa County alone, there were 90,189 ballots cast in the 2020 General Election. Young voters aged 18 to 29 made up the second-largest voting bloc in the area, only falling short to adults aged 60 to 69 by about 100 ballots.

Swann and her organization argue if voting barriers, such as mandatory events, classes, a lack of transportation, and institutional barriers such as complicated absentee ballot sign-up, were eliminated, youth voter turnout will increase.

“We want to eliminate possibly one of the largest barriers to youth participation in elections which is classes on election day,” she said.

If you’re interested in signing Vote Everywhere’s petition, check out this link.

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