It’s time to make Election Day a National Holiday

The “election fraud” claims of Donald Trump started in 2016 when he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. Long before the 2020 election against Joe Biden, he resurfaced the narrative.

Although Trump’s “election fraud” claim was little more than a public charade to feed his narcissism, his bellowing sentiment echoes across the GOP, now a Republican rallying cry.

The Election Integrity Act of 2021

To help rid the world of voter fraud, the great state of Georgia has just passed The Election Integrity Act of 2021 (full document), signed into law by Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. The problem? It focuses more on preventing people from voting than anything else.

Some of the law’s implications:

  • Increased Voter Identification requirements for absentee ballots
  • State officials can take over local elections boards
  • Limits the use of ballot drop boxes
  • Now illegal to give food or water to voters in line

One Democratic state senator called it, “the Christmas tree of goodies for voter suppression.”

Although many are quick to denounce Republicans motives, the underlying stated goal of “accountability” in the process is a good thing. The problem is when accountability measures are strategically crafted to suppress votes. Why shouldn’t we be encouraging all votes from all people?

You can look no further than Donald Trump himself to understand how opinions are based on desired outcomes rather than fairness:

  • In 2012, Trump said: “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”
  • In 2016, after losing the popular vote yet still becoming President, he changed his tune: “The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play.”
  • In 2020, after losing the popular vote and electoral vote, he decided that elections are one big fraud altogether. I wonder why?

While kooky local legislators, still infatuated with Trump and election fraud, try to further their own agenda, one simple, sweeping change could set a tone of equality and togetherness in our voting process.

Biden wants to do it

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have already publicly stated that they’d love to make Election Day a National Holiday:

This would relieve the difficulty of voting for a huge part of the United States population. Although service-industry workers who don’t get time off will still have an unfair disadvantage, it makes no sense to prevent all progress simply because we cannot achieve perfect progress in one fell swoop.

Declaring a one-time holiday can be done through executive order, but creating a permanent federal holiday that grants government closures requires Congressional support. And unfortunately, much of Congress doesn’t want you to vote.

Why do we vote on Tuesday?

If the government truly wanted you to vote, why would they hold elections on a Tuesday when everyone has to work. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why an Election Day holiday would be a great idea.

Election Day is on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, but do you know why? In the 1800s, Farmers went to church on Sunday, went to the market on Wednesday, and sometimes needed a day to get to their polling place. Tuesdays are no longer the most convenient day for voters, but the law prevails, making it disproportionately problematic for low-income workers who can’t easily take off work and have less access to reliable transportation.

President John Tyler was in office when the modern Election Day was set (PDF)

Recent efforts to change Election Day to Election Weekend didn’t get far due to religious concerns. Another idea is to move voting to Veterans Day (November 11th), which is already a day off, allowing Americans to honor the protectors of our Democracy and celebrating them through the patriotic act of voting. But none of these measures have made it very far.

There is only one good reason to continue voting on Tuesdays: tradition. So then why does Republican leadership denounce the idea as a “Democratic Power Grab“?

It’s simple: having an open and equal election is not of interest to everybody. Republicans like Mitch McConnell have explicitly stated this- creating voting accessibility for low-income workers and minorities hurts their chances of election.

You know what would help this group of people vote? Mail-in ballots. Which is exactly why Republicans denounce them as vehicles of fraud.

And if you choose to vote after your work ends, traveling to the polls by public transportation, waiting in line for hours, guess what? States like Georgia have made it illegal for you to obtain food or drinks while waiting in line, hoping it’s one more deterrent from attempting to vote in the first place.

If voting was considered an important civic duty – like jury duty – law-makers could easily make it an obligation. In places like Australia voting is mandatory (you can choose “none of the above”) and you’re fined $15 if you fail to vote without a valid excuse.

The Bottom Line

It’s not about tradition. It’s not about ideals. It’s not about fraud or accountability. These are all just sad political ploys to accomplish what far too many elected officials hold as their #1 priority: protecting their advantage.

Making Election Day a National Holiday is the quickest way to assure that the United States continues being a government “of the people, by the people, for the people” … and if not we should prepare to perish from this earth.