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Friday, Aug 12, 2022

Opinion: Election day should be a national holiday

Photo provided by Flickr.
Photo provided by Flickr.

With another Super Tuesday having come and gone, citizens of the United States flocked to the polls to cast their ballots for various political positions, from state representatives to governors.

However, a startling fact about our country is that we don’t vote. We live in the most progressive country in the world, yet we simply don’t want to go a few blocks or a few miles to go and vote for our representatives. There could be any number of reasons why people don’t vote, but the fact remains the same. I feel that on any voting day, whether it be local or national, everyone of voting age should have a day off of work and school.  

According to the Pew Research Center, the 2016 presidential election saw only 55.7 percent of the voting-age population (18 or older) vote. This number is atrocious. The United States is a country that allows any citizen, of any race, of any economic background to vote, and just over half of us do. By comparison, Sweden had 82.6 percent of their voting-age population vote, Australia had 78.96 percent and Mexico had 65.97 percent.

If you really dig into the numbers, it gets even worse. According to the United States Census Bureau, only 43 percent of people aged 18 to 24 voted in the 2016 election. Less than half of our age group, the “Millenial” age group, votes in elections. Yet, lately we seem to be making the most noise over social issues, from rallies, marches and protests. Could we ever fix this?

One of the most obvious reasons why voter turnout is so low is that it is subconsciously discouraged. Voting always takes place during the week, usually on a Tuesday. I am willing to bet that much more often than not, people are going to go to work or school, and not bother voting because of that. And the citizens that do want to take a day off to vote, or even a few hours off, can expect to be ridiculed or even discouraged from it by their employers.

A good counter-argument to this is the fact that there is already weekend voting in the form of early voting. While this is a step in the right direction, it certainly is not enough. If people did not have work or school in the first place, then we would not have to pay voting staff for the weeks they work leading up to the election. Moreover, early voting is poorly advertised.

“Super Tuesday” is well established, but you don’t hear too much about “Super Weekends.”

If we want to have a higher voter turnout and have our citizens in the greatest country in the world vote, there needs to be an easier way to do so. If everyone was allowed a day off of school and work on election Tuesdays to vote, a much higher voter turnout could be expected. Similarly, if voting took place over the weekend when there was not any school or work to begin with, then the turnout would be much higher as well.

Voting is a right in the United States, and there are people around the world that would die to have that right. It is time to change how voting occurs in America. If we can make even one small change, such as what day the voting takes place, I bet America would be a much better place, and voting would be celebrated, instead of ignored.


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