Should Election Day be a federal holiday?
via AP

Should Election Day be a federal holiday?

#HolidayForVoting
#StopWhiningAndVote
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Election Day has been on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November since 1845. The date was chosen by federal lawmakers to avoid conflicts with religious services and ease travel logistics for farmers and business owners. Critics say the antiquated law reduces voter turnout and penalizes hourly workers. But making Election Day a holiday could negatively impact the economy, increase costs for polling stations and disproportionately benefit Democrats. Should Election Day be a federal holiday? 🗳
THE VOTES ARE IN!
#HolidayForVoting
73.3%
#StopWhiningAndVote
26.7%

Voter turnout in America lags behind other developed nations, and the last general election was no different. Some folks blame the timing of Election Day, others say Americans simply aren't motivated to accommodate their busy schedules.

Being "too busy" tops the list of *excuses* reasons, followed by general lack of interest, illness, being out of town, simply forgetting, and disliking the candidates or the issues. Few people blamed registration issues, inconvenience, transportation issues or bad weather.
While Americans reasons for not voting seem reasonable enough, they don't really explain exactly what made 2014 unique. The same Census survey in 2010 found non-voters gave almost the exact same reasons for casting ballots. In non-voters' minds at least, the reasons for not casting ballots were hardly exceptional despite the historically low turnout.

John Oliver perfectly summed up the stupidity of having Election Day on some arbitrary Tuesday for 19th-century reasons. The end result is that it makes it difficult for most Americans to vote and creates barriers of entry at every turn:

There's no provision in the Constitution for a specific Election Day; instead, as the segment points out, "the reason actually comes from an 1845 law, passed for a very 1845 reason" — namely, that most of the country would need a "travel day" to get to their polling location because, you know, horses were often the fastest way to travel. And you couldn't interfere with the Sabbath, so, giving over Monday to travel, you ended up with Tuesday for voting.
"Yes, we vote on Tuesdays because of the Sabbath," the segment said, "making voting day the only thing in American life still scheduled around Sundays, other than the operating hours of Chick-fil-A, and new episodes of America's Funniest Home Videos."
"Holy shit. All the wait times of Disney World, all the fun of the fucking DMV."

This is a democracy. We should be making it easier, not harder, for people to vote.

Surely Election Day is more important than, say, Columbus Day.

Patagonia took it among themselves to give their employees Election Day off, and other companies should follow suit.

“On Election Day 2016, we closed all our retail stores nationwide, our distribution and customer service center in Nevada, and our headquarters in California, and gave all Patagonia employees paid time off so they could go vote,” writes Marcario. “This year, we’re doing it again. And this time, we’re actively encouraging other companies to join us. Because no American should have to choose between a paycheck and fulfilling his or her duty as a citizen.”

And yet, there are several good reasons why we shouldn't change Election Day:

  1. Declaring Election Day a federal holiday would have a huge impact on our economy.
  2. The cost of maintaining polling stations on a holiday would go up significantly, as it's likely states would have to increase polling stations, hire more officials and/or possibly expand early voting to accommodate the influx of voters.
  3. Many states already offer early voting and mail-in ballots, so this is just an excuse that places a high financial burden on the government.
  4. Any change to Election Day would disproportionately favor the Democrats.

Plus, evidence suggests that making it easier to vote doesn't necessarily increase voter turnout:

Rather than stimulating the unengaged, who are relatively deficient in political and economic resources, reforms to make voting easier mostly serve to keep existing voters voting. Thus, any slight increase in turnout works by ensuring that politically engaged voters continue to come to polls election after election. Nonvoters are left behind. Without engaging this segment of the US public, turnout will remain low.
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