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After a sweeping vote on March 13 and 14 during the Associated Students of the University of Nevada election in favor of canceling classes on Election Day, students may have already been looking forward to having the country’s most consequential Tuesday to themselves. However, it is not a one-and-done deal in the eyes of the Nevada System of Higher Education Board of Regents.

Students showed their support for the idea by voting “Yes” for “Democracy Day” on Ballot Question 2 during elections for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada, with 91.15 percent in favor and just 8.85 percent opposing. But the path to a school-free Election Day is more complicated than it might seem, according to Leaf Acklin, the College of Liberal Arts senator who authored the resolution to get it on the ballot — the push to get it on the student ballot this year passed the ASUN senate unanimously on Jan. 24

ASUN only has the power to lobby for the policy, not to implement it. In order to do so, Acklin said, it’ll take the approval of the Board of Regents, the Nevada System of Higher Education’s governing body. Because they meet so rarely, once per quarter, canceling classes on Election Day 2024 is off the table.

Gabe Kanae/Nevada Sagebrush
Voters wait in line at the Joe Crowley Student Union, one of Reno’s polling locations, on Election Day 2022.

“That would be great, but logistically, it’s not possible,” Acklin said. “It’ll probably be something that goes into effect by 2026 or 2028 just based on the amount of time it takes to go to the Board of Regents and get it passed.” 

Acklin added even before then, the measure still has hurdles to overcome. Right now, it’s being written up as a brief to send to UNR’s legal team, who’ll then review it before it can go to the Vice President of Student Services. The matter is further complicated by the fact the university is currently undergoing a search for someone to fill the position of Vice President of Student Services. 

After that, the measure will need the approval of Brian Sandoval, the university’s current president. The last step before it can reach the docket for the December Board of Regents meeting this year is a review by the Board of Regents’ own legal team. Their verdict will decide whether canceling classes on Election Day is even within the Board of Regents’ powers. 

If the Board’s legal team decides it can’t be done or the measure fails to pass the Board’s vote, it doesn’t necessarily spell the end of the measure, Acklin explained. 

In that case, Acklin said, “we’re going to use all of our time to start lobbying the Nevada legislature when it opens up this session. We also have a few state assembly people in mind to introduce the bill and get support for us.” 

Either way, the numbers on Ballot Question Two are a useful piece of support. Lobbying for the measure isn’t set to ramp up until the fall 2024 semester, but when it does, students who want to see the measure passed should reach out to the Board of Regents just as they would any elected official, Acklin added.

“The more people we have on our side, the more likely it is to pass. Just show up when the time is right and show the Board of Regents that students care about civic literacy, about democracy, about voting,” Acklin said. 

Should the measure pass, the original resolution’s wording argues: “Democracy Day” will expand beyond giving students a day to vote. 

“This resolution seeks to redefine Election Day at the University of Nevada, Reno, transforming it into a vibrant celebration of democracy, volunteerism, civic literacy and accessible voting for both students and faculty,” Acklin wrote in the resolution.

Gabe Kanae/Nevada Sagebrush
A “Vote Here” sign sits outside the Joe Crowley Student Union on Election Day 2022.

Students may be intimidated by the long road ahead, but measures like “Democracy Day” aren’t unprecedented. Schools like Stanford and the University of Michigan have already implemented a class-free Election Day for their students — and the resolution argues UNR can too.

“As much as it’d be a great thing to have this year, this is going to take time,” Acklin said. “Not just my team but ASUN as a whole is willing to commit its time, its resources and its energy to make sure that we have a chance to bring this to the Board of Regents — a chance to get it to pass.” 

Peregrine Hart can be reached at or on Twitter via @NevadaSagebrush.

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