Proposal to give students more time to vote awaits governor’s signature

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– One bill that could impact the time your child spends in the classroom quietly made its way to the governor’s desk this week.

The measure would allow students who are old enough to vote to leave school for two hours so they can cast their ballot.

Supporters said the bill is designed to make sure students have enough time to vote during the election cycle. While people against the bill argued students may take advantage of the time off as the law does not require students to show proof that they voted.

“I don’t see the need for why we have to a special carve out for kids in high school just to give them two hours off of school to potentially go vote,” said Springfield Republican Tim Butler.

Representative Butler was among the 40 House members who voted ‘no’ on a bill that will allow students to miss two hours of class time for voting.

“There’s no requirement to prove that the student has voted so the kid can go take two hours off if they want to. I don’t mind the idea behind it, we want to encourage more high school students to vote but at the end of the day, I just don’t think this was the right way to do it,” Butler said.

The bill allows schools to designate the hours students may leave.
Riverton Superintendent Brad Polanin said if it takes effect, it could create a good experience for students outside of the classroom but the open ends could create problems.

“It’s going to be challenging for us to be able to monitor it, it’s going to be challenging for us administratively to ensure that our students are going to be where they say they are going and they are going to vote,” Polanin said. “And we hope they do and we will encourage them to [do so]. We will put measures in place to ensure that they are.”

Springfield High senior Melanie McKeown said the flexibility is a plus for student athletes like her.

“If we can choose a period, like when we go, we can choose before or after lunch so it’s not right at lunch when other [people] and adults aren’t going; that’s when they have their break,” McKeown said. “Then we will have an option to pick a class that we don’t have a test in and we can use that time.”

The governor’s press secretary said the administration looks forward to reviewing the bill.

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