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Commentary Opinion

Make Election Day a holiday (we’ll vote on it)

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Christmas, Election Day. One of these holidays is not like the other.

Which one is it? Did your mind automatically assume Christmas because it’s the only one that doesn’t end in “day?”

All of the holidays listed above are federal holidays except for Election Day. Banks, post offices, libraries and schools close for federal holidays, but not on Election Day.

Election Day should be a national holiday. We give days off to recognize those who fought for our rights and serve our country as well as days to spend with our families. We should give the day off to American citizens so that they can perform their civic privilege and vote.

We are lucky to live in a country that allows us to vote as part of our democracy. While people are protesting around the world for their basic rights, a percentage of the American population isn’t participating in this opportunity to have their voices heard.

There is a multitude of reasons why people don’t vote, but some people have a valid reason: time. As more people are coming out to cast their ballots, lines are longer, and waiting takes more time.

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a busy life, but voting is so important to me. That’s why I think the federal government should remove one of the barriers preventing people from voting.

Though regulations vary by state, 29 states and the District of Columbia already provide some rights to employees to make sure they get out there on Election Day. Some offer paid time off, while others only give them the time, not the money.

The other 21 states? Nothing.

Another reason to give people the entire day off is time for research. Many people vote for their party down the ticket, but the person with a D or an R next to their name may not be the perfect candidate just because that’s the letter Americans chose on their voter registration.

When asking several Drake students whether they planned to vote, they said they didn’t have the time to research Iowa candidates or the candidates back home. Campaign ads can be loud and distracting.

Making Election Day a federal holiday could give citizens time to research the issues they think matter most and which candidate aligns with their values.

I’m making a plea to the federal government to make Election Day a national holiday. Even though they’ll probably never read this article, many Americans agree with me.

A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 71% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans who responded support this change. President Joe Biden expressed his interest in creating the new federal holiday in a speech in June 2021.

It’s an issue that has bipartisan support, something that’s terribly rare these days, and the support of the president. So why is our government dragging its feet on the issue?

As we saw with this election cycle, results were close, and every vote counts. Nonpartisan groups organize campaigns to get people to vote, regardless of who they vote for. These actions don’t mean anything if our citizens simply don’t have the time to vote.

Another study by the Pew Research Center found that younger generations lag behind their elders when considering who makes it to the polls on Election Day.

Maybe a federal holiday is exactly what young people need to have the time to cast their ballot.

The next time I curl up in my pajamas on President’s Day or celebrate the day off from classes on Labor Day, I’ll be thinking about how I could use a day off to vote.

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