OPINION | Tulane must facilitate mail-in voting

Deeya Patel, Views Editor

Tulane must find ways to facilitate the voting process for its students this year. (Ashley Chen)

The 2020 presidential election is a high stakes event and Tulane University students have always done their part to hold their peers accountable in the election process. Now, during the pandemic, students will have to jump through several hoops to cast their votes in November. The university must find a way to make the voting process smoother for its students. 

Just last year, The Tulane-area voting precinct saw a 118% increase in votes during the Louisiana governor election. Organizations such as Tulane College Democrats and College Republicans urge students to register to vote, and the Undergraduate Student Government tables on McAlister and invites passersby to take a few spare minutes to fill out a registration form.

With college-aged voter registration steadily increasing, it is clear that students want a hand in the turnout of the presidential election. But, unsurprisingly, the pandemic has thrown a wrench into many students’ plans to vote. Some students are hesitant to be in a potentially crowded polling place that might not properly enforce social distancing. Others don’t have a reliable mode of transportation. Many who have never voted previously are confused about which polling place they are supposed to go to. 

Instead of relying primarily on political student organizations to spread this information to their peers, Tulane should clarify these questions ahead of time and provide solutions to students’ worries. For much of the student body, this coming election marks the first time they are able to vote in a presidential election. With these uncharted territories comes a responsibility to educate the younger generation on such an important process.

For starters, the university should consider making voting alternatives such as TurboVote widely known and available. As for the many students who are opting for mail-in voting, it only makes sense for Tulane to ease this process for students with busy schedules who are likely voting for the first time. The university could provide transportation to mailing locations, or become a drop-off center itself. Transportation should also be accessible on Election Day for those who choose to cast their vote directly at the polling place. 

In any sense, Tulane needs to be actively involved in the election process, especially during a year as confusing as this one. If Tulane calls itself an institute of higher education, it must engage in civic education as well. The school has much to learn from its own students, as much of the student body is heavily invested in the outcome of this year’s presidential race.