[Image via keepcalms]
Illinois students will now have a two-hour excused absence on a school day to vote, thanks to a new law signed by the Governor yesterday. WEEK has more:
Students eligible to vote will now be able to do so during the school day without fear of repercussions.
Governor Pritzker signed a bill allowing students to be excused for two hours to vote in a primary, general, special or any election where propositions are submitted to a popular vote in the state, according to a release.
Students can be excused to vote on the day of election or on a day where early voting is offered.
The law does give schools the right to limit when the excuse is valid, but supporters are excited about what it means for young voters:
Under the legislation, schools may specify the hours in which students may be excused.
“With this new law, our voting-eligible young people will have the freedom to fit voting into their school day without fear of repercussion for engaging in the very civic education we should all be proud to encourage, he said. “The young people who advocated for this legislation recognized how important it is not only to vote, but to make the act of voting as accessible for all who can vote as possible.”
Students from Thornton Fractional North High School and Thornton Fractional South High School brought the idea to Senator Elgie Sims, who worked with the General Assembly and Rep. Nick Smith to pass the law.
“The advocacy of the students in my district convinced me I had to sponsor this legislation, and their passion helped get it over the finish line,” Sims said. “Signing this plan into law broke down a barrier that has long made it difficult for them and other students throughout the state to vote.”
“Hopefully, this new law will excite Illinois students and encourage them to take their civic duty as voters seriously.”
“Voting is one of the most important civic responsibilities we will hold in our lifetime,” Smith said. “It’s important that we work to encourage young people to vote by removing barriers that could restrict them from making it to the polls.”
“Providing an opportunity to briefly leave school during an Election Day grants our young voters a chance to have their voice heard when they may not be able to make it to the polling booth otherwise.”
SB1970 takes effect June 1.
I’ll be interested to see if the state keeps data on how many students use the excuse and if so, when students elect to use it – for which elections as well as on Election Day or before. Still, it’s a fascinating approach to addressing student voting and one worth watching once it goes into effect this summer. Grab that hall pass and stay tuned …