If you’re planning to work or attend class on Election Day, Sen. Barack Obama wants you to take a day off.
A new advertisement featured on Obama’s Web site urges voters to “take Election Day off for Barack” to volunteer for his campaign. The senator pushes for voters to talk to their bosses or professors about skipping work or school to knock on doors or volunteer at phone banks in order to help Obama supporters get to the polls.
Not everyone thinks this is a good idea. Sen. John McCain’s campaign reprimanded Obama for encouraging Americans to skip work or class.
“Apparently, Barack Obama believes that you can’t make history by doing your job, or going to school or caring for your kids,” said McCain’s spokesman Michael Goldfarb in a statement to foxnews.com. “Apparently, Barack Obama thinks the only way Americans can make history is by voting, and working, for Barack Obama.”
Senior theater major Nate Logue said students should be excused from classes on Election Day.
“I think if you show your professor your registration card, it should be an excused absence from class,” Logue said. “I’m done classes early, so I’m not going to skip, but I would. I’m pretty sure that picking our next president is more important than missing one class.”
Senior finance major Natalie Haller agrees.
“I think people should take off of school or work,” she said. “Election Day is one time every four years, and it is such an important election, especially to first-time voters. It doesn’t matter whether you’re campaigning or voting. Teachers shouldn’t be against their students getting involved in the election.”
Conversely, financial services consultant Josh Seifert said it’s ridiculous to be asked to take off work, especially because of the current economy.
“This country has a big issue right now with the economy, so I’m pretty sure taking a day off of work to campaign for Obama is going to do nothing positive for the country,” Seifert said.
Obama’s call for the day off could bring back a long-running debate about whether or not Election Day should be a national holiday. Some advocates say Congress could boost voter participation in the United States by holding elections on a holiday or weekend. That way, no one would need to skip work.
Michael Maynard, professor and chair of the advertising department, does not feel Election Day should be its own holiday.
“That would just cause more confusion,” Maynard said. “We need to keep things consistent.”
Maynard will not be canceling class on Election Day, either.
“I have a good reason,” he said. “The best experience a student will get at a university is face time. I treasure the time I have with my students, and it is our obligation to meet for class every week. Students will be missing classes throughout the semester for other reasons, and Election Day is something that can be worked around. It is a known, fixed time.”
Every Election Day, there are bosses and professors who cancel class or give days off for work. And this year is no different. It will be up to the individual to decide whether or not he or she will be cutting class or skipping work to vote or campaign.
When it comes to Obama calling for the day off, Maynard said it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.
“It’s not needed,” he said. “People who are in favor of him will find a way to get to the polls.”
Amanda Hill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.