Election Day Must be a National Holiday

Keela Delves and Emily Massage

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The Tuesday after November 1st is the day widely known as Election Day. What is perhaps less well known is the fact that the U.S. has an average of about 55% voter turnout for such elections. This number is largely a result of polls being open from 7am to 7pm, which fall between the work hours of most eligible voters in the United States. The most common reason Americans claim for not voting is simply not having enough time to do so. This is because in most parts of the United States, Election Day is not considered a national holiday.No wonder only half of voters actually vote, many are required to work a 9 to 5 job and also find time to cast their ballots. Which begs the question, why not make Election Day a national holiday?

Election Day should be a national holiday because it would be of tremendous benefit to the government and elections in general.

On January 4, 2019, Democrats introduced a bill that proposed making Election Day a national holiday. While two-thirds of Americans polled that they would be in support of this change, others showed opposition for the bill. Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell labeled the bill  a “Power Grab” by Democrats.

“Just what America needs, another paid holiday and a bunch of government workers being paid to go out and work, I assume for our colleagues on the other side — on their campaigns,” he said on the floor of the Senate.

Senator Bernie Sanders is in support of the bill and promotes the the idea of  “Democracy Day” in order to make Election Day a holiday, and he even uses it as a selling point for his campaign for President.

The United States is severely behind when it comes to voter turnout. Countries such as Belgium, Sweden, and Turkey have more than 80% of the population voting in elections. Belgium and Turkey have compulsory voting laws that increase their voter turnout. Currently in the U.S., there is no law that requires employers to grant their employees time off in order to vote. This is the reason for such a low percentage of the population voting.

Though many Republicans may say that making Election Day a national holiday is a Democratic “power grab,” this is legitimate solution to an ongoing problem. A problem that is created because the polls fall during work hours. And that is just how we fix it.

By simply allowing voters to have the day off, you eliminate the “being too busy” excuse. In fact, it would get people excited about voting again. Unfortunately, many young people may not even be aware when Election Day is, and this may be the push they need to get out and vote. The U.S. needs Election Day to be a holiday or else the very basis of our electoral systems will not work. Declaring Election Day a holiday is the step we need to make in order to advocate further democratic participation and strive toward a more comprehensive vote.

Contact your local or state representatives to educate them on why Election Day should be holiday and hopefully we will be one step closer to a more accurate democracy.