The Pros and Cons of Making Election Day a National Holiday

Kaylee Everhart

Updated Wednesday, May 8, 2024 at 5:21 PM CDT

The Pros and Cons of Making Election Day a National Holiday

Challenges for Workers with Round-the-Clock Schedules

Making Election Day a national holiday has been a topic of debate in the United States. Advocates argue that it would make it easier for all citizens to exercise their right to vote, while opponents raise concerns about the practicality and potential impact on certain workers. One of the main challenges highlighted is that not all professions can afford to take the day off due to their round-the-clock work schedules. Nurses, firefighters, truckers, food service workers, and 911 operators are just a few examples of those who may find it difficult to vote on a designated holiday.

While many jobs do not give time off for national holidays, the desire for a federal law that bans employers from requiring people to work on Election Day may be limited. Employers often prioritize their business operations and may not be willing or able to grant time off to their employees. This raises questions about the feasibility and practicality of implementing such a law.

Exploring Alternatives: Early Voting and Mail-In Voting

Some argue that making it easier to vote through early voting and mail-in voting would be a more effective solution than declaring Election Day a holiday. States like Oregon have successfully implemented vote-by-mail systems, where ballots are mailed to voters and can be conveniently returned by mail. This method ensures accessibility and convenience for voters, eliminating the need for a specific holiday.

Similarly, early voting allows individuals to cast their ballots at their convenience. By opening polling places a week before Election Day, states provide an extended period for citizens to exercise their right to vote. These alternatives may address the issue of accessibility without the need for a national holiday.

Potential Political Implications

Speculation surrounds the potential political implications of making Election Day a national holiday. Some argue that it could favor one political party over another. For example, it is suggested that if Americans made their presidential election an official holiday, Republicans may face challenges in winning national elections, and states like Texas could potentially turn blue. This highlights the potential impact on the political landscape and the need for a comprehensive analysis of the consequences.

Existing Protections and Voter Suppression

It is important to note that it is already technically illegal for employers to force employees to work in a way that would cause them to miss a federal election, except for emergency services. However, employers often require employees to use their personal time off or lunch breaks to vote. Despite these legal protections, active voter suppression tactics, such as closing polling places or placing them in inaccessible locations, can still hinder individuals' ability to vote. Thus, addressing voter suppression should be a priority alongside any potential changes to Election Day.

Considerations and Conclusion

While making Election Day a holiday may seem like a straightforward solution to increase voter turnout, it is essential to consider the potential drawbacks and alternative options. Retail, customer service, and food service workers, who often work on national holidays, may not benefit from a designated holiday, as they may still be required to work. Additionally, longer lines and wait times at polling locations could potentially lead to voter frustration.

Instead of solely focusing on making Election Day a holiday, efforts should be made to increase voter education and engagement. Implementing mandatory voting laws, as seen in countries like Australia, could also be explored as an alternative approach to boost participation.

The potential benefits of making Election Day a holiday include increased civic participation, greater accessibility for voters, and a stronger democracy. However, the impact on certain workers, the need for alternative voting methods, and the potential for political polarization should also be carefully considered. Ultimately, finding a balance between accessibility, practicality, and democratic participation is crucial when discussing potential changes to Election Day.

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