The voting process in America is the most prevalent form democracy takes in our nation today. People all throughout the nation go to polling centers to vote, but sometimes people may not be able to make it to these places. Election day is on a Tuesday (a workday), which prevents many from leaving work to go vote. This leads to less voter turnout in places where there is no voting by mail. In turn, the issue of making election day a national holiday has arisen, with proponents of it believing it will increase voter turnout. Those opposed say it should be up to the states as they run their own elections. Whether or not this is a good idea to increase voter turnout has yet to be seen, with pros and cons on the issue.
The United States has very low numbers for voter turnout compared to other countries. According to procon.org, “In the 2016 presidential election, 55.7% of the American voting-age population cast a ballot. By comparison, Belgium reported the highest OECD voter turnout: 87.2% in the most recent national election.” This low number can be raised by a national holiday as many people said they were “too busy” to vote on election day. Also, a holiday could turn what is normally a task out of people’s ways a celebration of the democratic system by having the day off. More time to cast ballots would arguably lead to greater voter turnout. Many other countries also have election day as a holiday, while 71% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans support it.
There are downsides to having the day became a holiday. There is no law requiring private companies to give employees paid vacation on federal holidays. Forbes states, “Who would get squeezed by the holiday? Try lower-wage earners at restaurants and stores – enterprises that would look to cash in if the working class got an extra day off.” Low income workers could be hurt by it, as they could be losing money. People also rely on after school childcare, which would not be present if there was a federal holiday. Having states set their own laws on election day could be more effective, as national elections are still run through the individual states. Other changes similar to this, such as automatic voter registration, could also help increase voter turnout. Until new laws are passed, a holiday or not, voter turnout will still be low.
Voting Holiday by Matthew is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.