SUNY General Counsel-In-Charge Sandra M. Casey issued a memorandum on Oct. 28, reminding SUNY campuses that it is a violation of state and federal election laws to provide benefits to campus community members for voting.
Casey’s memo specifically notes that faculty should neither reward students who show proof they voted, nor penalize students for not voting.
The memo reads in part:
“The right to vote is one of the critical cornerstones of our democracy, and the SUNY community takes great pride in watching our students engage in this right – often for the first time. The State University of New York strongly encourages students, faculty, staff, and community members to vote in all elections to have their voices heard. As we are in the last week of election season, however, the Office of General Counsel would like to remind campuses, including faculty and staff, that it is a violation of state and federal election laws to provide benefits to campus community members for voting. In particular, faculty should not afford any course credit or extra credit to students who show proof that they voted (or concomitant penalties for not voting).”
It also cites the relevant section of New York State Election Law as follows:
§ 5–106. Qualifications of voters; reasons for exclusion 1. No person who shall receive, accept, or offer to receive, or pay, offer or promise to pay, contribute, offer or promise to contribute to another, to be paid or used, any money or any other valuable thing as a compensation or reward for the giving or withholding a vote at an election, or for registering or refraining from registering as a voter, or who shall make any promise to influence the giving or withholding of any such vote or registration, or who shall make or become directly or indirectly interested in any bet or wager depending upon the result of an election, shall vote at such election.
Faculty who have questions about this policy are encouraged to raise them with their department chairs and/or deans.