Point/Counterpoint: Should Election Day Be a National Holiday?


Graphic by Luca Rivera

Ella Stern, Senior, Features Editor

The best measure of political efficacy is how frequently people vote in elections. Any American who does not vote, but is able to, is cheating themselves of the freedoms entitled to all citizens by the Constitution. However, busy schedules, various responsibilities, and transportation difficulties can make getting to the polls a difficult task for many. Therefore, in a country that depends upon political involvement, it is practical that Election Day become a national holiday to ensure maximum participation in elections.

According to The Washington Post, other democratic countries such as France and Mexico observe Election Day as a national holiday and have much greater voter turnout than that of United States. The intense culture of America’s workplace may actually be to blame for the low percentage of people heading to the polls. In a survey from the U.S.Census Bureau, of the 19 million people who did not vote in the 2016 election 14.3 percent cited being too busy as a top reason for their failure to participate. Many states do not mandate that employers have to pay their workers for the time they take off to vote. Votes are important because they allow citizens’ voices to be heard. In a time when many feel disappointed with the government, it’s important that people take advantage of voting, as a chance to push for the change. In an article for The New York Times, John Conyers, former U.S. Representative, said, “Though some might dismiss an Election Day holiday as being too expensive for our government to afford, the damage caused by low voter participation is a far greater risk…Setting aside a day devoted to voting makes the process not only more convenient, but fairer for American citizens.”

In 2017, District 16 representative Eliot Engel, along with many other Democrats, supported a constitutional amendment that would protect the voting rights of all citizens and proposed making Election Day a national holiday. Perhaps if Election Day were a national holiday people would feel more compelled to vote. The highest voting turnout of 50.4 percent was in 1914. If Election Day were a holiday, people might be more motivated to take the time to research their representatives. More citizens might be inclined to participate in a greater number of elections, not solely in highly publicized races.

The American people need to think of voting as less of a suggestion, and more of a responsibility to themselves and their nation. In an age of polarized politics, it’s more important than ever that citizens express their opinions at the polls, and help to push their their country in a direction they support.