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

Con

Graphic by Luca Rivera

Christopher Hartigan, Sophomore, Staff Reporter

Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves.” Americans are their own worst enemy when it comes to voting. In recent years, people have argued that they do not have time to go out and vote due to commitments such as work. As a result, some have been advocating for an entire day off just for voting. However, this may prove to be impractical and unnecessary.

Election Day takes place on the first Tuesday in November. However, in 37 states, voting polls are open on average of 22 days prior to the official Election Day. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, polls generally open at 6:00 or 8:00 a.m., in some states, and close at 6:00 or 9:00 p.m. CareerBuilder states that 65 percent of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 work a 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. job. It should be reasonable to assume one could go vote before or after work. Is it practical to give people an eight-hour holiday for something that could be accomplished weeks in advance?

Further, many people fail to realize that one would be trading Election Day for another holiday. It would not just be another day off. An Ohio city opted to trade Columbus Day for Election Day. Kristine Phillips, writer for The Washington Post, said in an article, “Last year….officials proposed giving up Columbus Day and making Election Day a citywide holiday. Unions supported it, and the city’s seven-member commission passed the legislation.” This is a slippery slope. Once we start questioning the importance of national celebrations, aren’t we belittling or nullifying the events that should mean the most to us? While some question the political correctness of Columbus Day (preferring instead to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day as a way of recognizing that Columbus didn’t really “discover” anything — there were already many people here), is the basis of the holiday — celebrating the spirit of exploration as well as “discovery” — not worthy of celebration? Are people really willing to give up Columbus Day, a holiday which has been celebrated since 1937, for an entire day to vote?

An alternative to making Election Day a holiday might be changing Election Day to a Saturday. Countries such as Poland and Switzerland moved their Election Days to a Saturday which was conducive to promising results. In Poland’s 2015 presidential election, 55 percent of those who were eligible voted, an increase from Poland’s prior two elections.

John F. Kennedy declared, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” Election Day as a national holiday is a frivolous idea. People should fulfill their civic duties and vote regardless of if one is preoccupied.