Election Day should be a national holiday

Only 60% of citizens who are of voting age in America vote, there is an easy fix to this.

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Election Day should be a national holiday

Emma Hilgart-Griff, Social Media Team/Knights Speak Team

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The small city of Sandusky, Ohio, has declared Election Day a paid holiday instead of Columbus Day. Sandusky joined areas like Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky and Puerto Rico in giving all workers leave on Election Day. 

So why isn’t Election Day a national holiday? The answer is exceedingly simple: if you have to work, you can’t vote, causing over 60% of American citizens to not vote. Of that 60%, 80% are low-income individuals and young people and if you are a low-income person or student, you likely can’t afford to miss school or work. When missing a day of work to vote means not paying rent, voting seems far less important.

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has a national voting day as part of his platform, stating that, “In America, we should be celebrating our democracy and doing everything possible to make it easier for people to participate in the political process.”

Middle and upper-class Americans are able to take time off work, and self-employed people and retirees statistically make it out to vote more consistently than other groups. If only older, upper-class Americans are able to vote, is it really a democracy? Population wise, there are more low-income Americans and people under 25 than retirees, it is nonsensical that a lower population votes more than a higher one.

When the people that need representation can’t even elect that representation, is our society functional? No, it isn’t. We need to create a system that is accessible to everyone, no matter what walk of life they represent. 

In Puerto Rico, Election Day is a widely celebrated holiday, with parades and parties in the streets. Many believe that this celebratory nature of voting is why the island has an 80% voter turnout, compared to 60% in the U.S during general elections and roughly 40% during midterms. 

Making Election Day a national holiday is the right move to increase voter turnout in America: more people will vote simply because they now can afford to.