MU students make it to the polls and their classes on Election Day 2020

MU students attended classes and voted on Election Day. Even with their busy schedules, students found the time to go out and vote.

For sophomore Olivia Balkenbush, timing was the name of the game on Nov. 3. Balkenbush spent Election Day attending classes in person and on Zoom, voting for the first time and working at Mort’s in the Student Center.

“I know there are lots of people who don't vote for whatever reason,” Balkenbush said. “But, I just couldn't imagine not voting, especially because I'm of age and I’m registered to vote.”

Balkenbush said she started off that Tuesday by attending an 8 a.m. Journalism 1400 class, in person. She said only three people showed up to the eight or nine person class. After that, Balkenbush had an economics class over Zoom.

“This one girl in my econ class came in like 20 minutes late to the Zoom class, saying that it took her two hours to vote,” Balkenbush said. “That was right before I was about to go vote. I [was] like, ‘Oh shoot, I hope I'm not late.’ Right after class ended, I went [to vote].”

Balkenbush said she voted for the first time at New Haven Elementary School. She said it didn’t take as long as she expected, about 10 minutes, and the process was simpler than she thought it would be.

“Before I voted I was worried about being late to work,” Balkenbush said. “I got to work on time. I asked other people, ‘Hey did you get the chance to vote today?’ They said, ‘Yeah we did. We went way before work.’”

Despite worrying about all of the things she had to do on Election Day, Balkenbush enjoyed her first voting experience.

“I wanted to get the experience of voting in person too,” Balkenbush said. “I asked [my mom], ‘Mom, should I just do the mail-in like everybody else?’ She was like, ‘No, I want you to get the experience of voting in person.’ It was fun.”

Sophomore political science major Jane Elliston also said she voted in person on Election Day, but not in Columbia.

“Actually [it] was kind of a spur of the moment [thing],” Elliston said. “I had applied for an absentee ballot from Greene County back in September. But when absentee ballots were supposed to arrive, I never got mine. [It] was weird because I had gotten my August primary ballot and I filled out basically the same criteria. So I was like, ‘I'm not getting my absentee ballot. I guess I have to go home.’”

Elliston said she drove about five hours in total, by herself, to Fair Grove, Missouri to vote. Elliston had multiple reasons for voting in this election.

“For one, I'm a political science major [so] I kind of feel obligated to,” Elliston said. “Another thing I'd say is I'm half Japanese and my mother is not a citizen. She's a ‘legal alien,’ so she has her green card and visa and everything. I was honestly a little concerned about her immigration rights, in terms of having a certain party in office. I was just concerned about her rights.”

Elliston said she’s also concerned about her own rights, as a person of color, as well as the rights of her other family members.

In order to vote in Fair Grove, Elliston had to attend her two Tuesday classes while driving.

“I actually attended both of them via Zoom while I was driving and then I watched the recorded lectures after I got home,” Elliston said. “The only issue was [for] the first [class], I was in [a] really bad internet spot so I kind of cut out.”

While Elliston recognizes that it might be difficult for professors to cancel classes on Election Day, she wishes that more could have been done to ensure students had the time to vote.

“I do wish that elections were a national holiday or just something where people could get time off and have an opportunity to vote,” Elliston said. “I know a lot of times people are like, ‘Well, I have to get to work. I can't miss that. And so I can't vote.’ I wish that it was more accessible in a sense.”

While Balkenbush didn’t notice professors lessening the workload or rescheduling classes for election day, she was happy with MU’s handling of the day.

“Mizzou did a great job of providing people with information, and people to talk to,” Balkenbush said. “I like how they did the voting at the [Mizzou Arena], which I didn’t know was a thing. But, I’m glad they did do that … Mizzou [also] put up signs saying to go vote. I mean I really think they did all they could do.”

MU offered information for students and faculty about election day online. This included information to help registered voters of Boone County find their polling place and information about absentee and mail-in voting.

Elliston would have liked more information about absentee and mail-in voting from the university.

“I feel like maybe Mizzou could give more information on how to do proper absentee ballots,” Elliston said. “I know we had a notary … But, it wasn't very well publicized.”

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