Image via Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Faculty Executive Board recently passed a motion brought forth by representatives from the Student Government Association (SGA), requesting that teaching faculty provide academic consideration for student voters on November 3, Election Day.

The request was presented by Samuel Ellis, vice president of External Affairs for the undergraduate SGA, who shared in a presentation to the board that the voter participation rate at Georgia Tech in 2018 was 46.2%, with the majority of voters being undergraduate students. The student body’s goal, Ellis said, is to reduce obstacles students face getting to the polls on Election Day and increase voter turnout and participation.

"This support from the Faculty Executive Board and individual faculty members across the Institute will allow students to be able to exercise their right to vote on Election Day without worrying about academic penalty,” said Brielle Lonsberry, fourth-year biomedical engineering major and president of the undergraduate SGA. “I am proud of the Georgia Tech community for taking steps to reduce barriers to students staying civically engaged and for embracing our motto of Progress and Service so well."

Specifically, the SGA motion requested that, for Election Day, faculty move lectures to an asynchronous format; avoid scheduling in-class quizzes, tests, or assessments; and make lecture recordings available to students unable to attend class that day. The Faculty Executive Board passed the motion, clarifying that, although classes will still be in session November 3, faculty members are strongly encouraged to consider making these modifications in order to give Georgia Tech students ample opportunity to participate in the election.

“Georgia Tech is committed to the growth of civic-minded leaders, and we are proud to support the civic engagement of all of our students,” said Rafael L. Bras, provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs. “I support the efforts of the SGA and appreciate the flexibility of our instructional faculty in this shared commitment.”

The SGA has also established, Ellis noted, mechanisms to fast-track any Georgia Tech student wishing to volunteer as a poll worker for the November 3 general election. In addition, the SGA is working through their communications office to support students voting by absentee ballot.