WATCH: Get Out The Vote – Let’s Make Election Day A National Holiday

Election Day: Voters push to make it a national holiday

A petition on that seeks to make Election Day a national holiday is gaining traction and trying to ensure that everyone gets to vote. Vote photo cc 2008 Theresa Thomson via Flickr.

Voting can undoubtedly be a burden for Americans who have to work for a living, and this is especially true for those who can’t afford to take a day off in the middle of the week in order to go cast a ballot. This has been a consistent problem over the years, and the original reason for holding the nation’s elections when they’re held has long since passed. Countless people over the years have recommended moving election day or making it a national holiday for this reason, and finally, American citizens are doing something about it.

The push for making Election Day a national holiday.

Making “Election Day” a national holiday is nowhere close to being a new idea. Back in 2005, then-Senators Hillary Clinton and John Kerry both backed a plan to make the day a national holiday. Unfortunately, we can see how far that got. It wasn’t just modern politicians, though, who were backing the plan. After the nail-biting 2000 election, Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, a Democrat and Republican, respectively, advocated the move.

Sadly, this Election Day as a national holiday movement — which would undoubtedly increase voter turnout in a country with an abysmal turnout rate — has never taken off. American citizens are ready to know why. In a petition on the White House’s We the People website, Americans are demanding that Election Day be made into a federal holiday. As with all petitions on the website, it must reach 100,000 signatures before a certain date, March 4 in this case, and if it does, it will warrant an official response from the president.

With a voter turnout rate of only about 58% in the 2012 presidential election, it would seem as if any idea that could increase the number of people who make it to the polls would be coveted.

 Why is Election Day on… Election Day?

Many people rightfully wonder why Election Day even takes place on a Tuesday instead of on the weekend. Once they learn the truth about it, they’re often left wondering “WTF?” Before television, airplanes, and automobiles, Americans had to get around on horse-drawn carriages and work much harder than most individuals do today. Additionally, most had to worry about getting to church on Sunday and handling their harvest. All of these factors came into play in 1845 when our Election Day was chosen.

Congress opted to make the first Tuesday that followed the first Monday in November Election Day. This ensured that individuals would have a day’s travel time, a day to vote, and a day to travel back home without interfering with their religious worship. November was chosen simply because, by the time the month rolled around, most people’s harvests in this overwhelmingly agrarian society had already been completed. Additionally, the harsh winter weather would still be a month or so from occurring.

That’s right people:  We vote when we vote because our ancestors had to travel on horseback after picking their crops but before church and winter. Why is it still this way? Because for some reason, Congress sees a day in the middle of the week, when lower and middle class people have to work, as a completely legitimate day to ask them to vote.

Rainn Wilson, also known as Dwight from The Office, really pointed out the illogical nature of this archaic law in the following hilarious video.


Who Could Stand Against This?

It seems as if it would be completely common sense to make Election Day a national holiday. After all, shouldn’t all politicians want eligible voters to be able to make it to the polls?

That was a rhetorical question.

Henry Stern, a former New York City Councilman who cost the city millions when allegations of racism were thrown his way, called New York City’s Election Day holiday “ridiculous.” He went on to say:

 “If they can think of a reason to have a holiday, they’ll have a holiday.”

It’s not really fair to lay the blame on Stern, though, since he was only a councilman in one American city. The fact that Clinton and Kerry’s support for the idea didn’t lead to the law being changed by Congress goes to show that Stern is not alone. Sadly, until America goes the way of Germany, Belgium, and Austria, all countries with much higher voter turnouts and who have made Election Day a national holiday or held it during the weekends, it appears as if every American will never really have a say in our leaders.

You can sign the petition here.