Recently, I’ve seen several calls for making election day a national holiday, or on a weekend, as it is in other countries. One of these calls came from Bernie Sanders, whom I am a strong supporter of, however on this topic, I am going to have to disagree.
I work in the tourism industry. But I don’t have to to know that if you give someone a day off on a Monday in January, they will go skiing (pending good snow, which has been another story this year). If you give them a day off in May, they’ll go camping. A day off in July- they’ll take the whole week off since the kids are out of school and make this their “family vacation.” They are not sitting around honoring Martin Luther King, our fallen soldiers, or the founding of our country**.
In the same way, I doubt we would stay in our home communities and vote if we had election day off. It would become just another day to do something fun that we don’t get a chance to do on a workday.
Which is great! I’m all for fun and less work! If I got federal holidays as paid days off, I might want another to add to my checklist of days I don’t work. But increasing voter turnout? I don’t think this is how we do it.
If we keep election day on a weekday, we’re less likely to be out of town skiing or camping, going to a wedding or birthday party, visiting family or escaping from them. If we have to get up and go to work on election day, most likely we’ll be waking up and going to bed in the same town we vote it. That makes voting much simpler.
Voter turnout has been dismal in recent history and it’s a noble cause to try to turn that around. Let’s try push to accomplish that in other ways.
**These generalizations do not take into account the people of the small towns of my childhood (and countless others) that respectfully honor our fallen soldiers each Memorial day. My lack of ever actually memorizing the Star Spangled Banner on the clarinet, however, was less than respectful.