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Super Tuesday: Private School Students wish for National Holiday by Eleanor Mancini

After the Iowa Caucus, New Hampshire Primary, and other contentious standoffs this election season, Tennessee has its chance to influence the election. Today, March 3rd, better known as Super Tuesday, is one of the most important dates along the election trail. 14 states across the nation hit the polls, revealing key sentiments from different regions.

States which will be participating this Super Tuesday

This day poses great weight, and is the day many Democratic candidates, like Mike Bloomberg and Joe Biden, will be waiting to see if their campaign efforts have been worth it.

While the contentious elections are Democratic, the Republican party primaries are open as well. All in Tennessee will have the chance to choose their nominee today.

Although Tennessee holds two weeks of early voting, only 8-10% of registered voters chose this option. The majority will vote day of on March 3rd. On Super Tuesday, people across the state of all ages will head to their local polling locations with this goal in mind.

Long lines in a Kentucky polling office.

This day is full of excitement for many, with voters flashing “I voted” stickers, and posting on social media. However, the increased turnout can lead to long lines and hour-long waits.

For teachers and students, committing this time out of the day can be difficult.

All public schools in Tennessee have a day-off, as most will operate as polling locations. However, private schools treat this day like any other.

English teacher Nikki Mynatt, who plans to vote on March 3rd, commented, “I find it is incredibly inconvenient. A teacher’s life is very busy, you know. I think voting day should be a national holiday, whether you go to public school or not, to encourage maximum participation.”

Many students have voiced equal complaints, saying it will be difficult to get out, especially with extracurriculars after school lasting until as late at 8 o’clock.

Sophie Susano, a senior who recently registered to vote, is a cast member for the upcoming musical. Because of long rehearsals after school, she is nervous about making it to her polling location. Susano feels to combat this, it would be reasonable, if not a full day off, to grant an excused absence to all seniors who need to vote.

Senior Mckenna Garibay said, “If I had the whole day off, I think I would [go vote]. I don’t think everyone would, but I think there would be an increase in people from our school. Even if it’s not just a whole day, I don’t think an absence should be counted against us.”

These seniors represent a demographic which is not always represented strongly in the polls. Eighteen to twenty-five year-olds vote less than any other age range. While this discrepancy exists for a number of reasons, one reason is the inconvenience for students to reach the polls on election day. Many students in college are required to vote via absentee ballots if out of state, but in Tennessee, your first vote cannot be an absentee ballot. You have to be present in person.

AP Government teacher Mrs. Chady does not believe any form of absence is necessary.

“The only reason the public schools are closed is because so many of them are polling sites. It’s a logistical and safety matter, it’s not a matter of enabling the teachers or the students to vote. Voting polls are open from 8-8. It’s just one of those things you’ve got to plan for in your day. Or you have to make plans to early vote,” Chady said.

However, Chady suggests there are other ways to motivate students to vote:

“I think that education is the most important thing because you can’t vote unless you know when the election is and you know how to vote. I think there’s a place for that. Particularly in the government classes and stuff to be hands on. I do think teaching kids about [voting] is an important job of parents too. Hopefully a lot of students at Knoxville Catholic have gone and voted with their parents before.”

Senior Alex Dally agrees a bit with both attitudes. Though Alex is seventeen, she will be eighteen on election day in November. “I would definitely go out and vote if we had school canceled. It would make it easier to vote. But for seniors, I think people would take advantage of it. I mean, voting only takes like an hour and then the rest of the day would be doing whatever, maybe catching up on all the work you missed,” Dally said.

She suggests, like Susano and Garibay, the possibility of an excused absence.

Mrs. Chady finished saying, “The right to vote is the most important of the civil rights that we have in the United States. It’s a great responsibility for people to be informed and to exercise that right.”

Ultimately, whether we have school canceled or not, the important thing is to get out there and participate.

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