Election Day should be holiday

Courtesy of USA Today
Courtesy of USA Today


By Hallie Lauer | Features Editor

In 1845, Congress decided that Election Day would be on the first Tuesday of November. This decision was made largely because it was a full day’s ride with horse-drawn buggies to the local polling place, and in order to prevent disruption to the sabbath, or market days which were traditionally Wednesday, Tuesday was chosen. November was chosen because fall harvest would have been finished, but the worst of winter storms would not have yet hit.

If that sentiment sounds a little silly, it’s because 173 years later, things have changed just a bit. For example, we no longer travel by horse and buggy and polling stations are scattered throughout every district, making it more convenient for voters.

In 2015, agriculture made up 5.5 percent of the U.S. GDP according to the department of agriculture. Our economy is no longer agrarian, so why continue to follow a standard set over a century ago that no longer applies to our country? This idea is an antiquated one and desperately needs amended.

Since the ways of the country have changed, so should Election Day. The idea of having it on the same day for every election cycle is a smart one, but making Election Day a national holiday should be considered. So keep it the first Tuesday of November, but also give workers that day off so that they can exercise their civic right.

One of the more popular excuses for not voting is because of work related conflicts. If Congress were to make Election Day a national holiday, that removes one more obstacle for voters.

If more obstacles are removed, voter turnout will inevitably increase. While these midterms yielded a massive increase in voter turnout, that number could still be increased by making the day a national holiday.

While the creation of a new national holiday could be a burden on employers, consider replacing an already existing federal holiday, like Columbus Day. It is incredibly problematic to celebrate Christopher Columbus in the way that this nation does, but that’s an opinion for another piece. We could solve two problems at once by revoking the federal holiday status of Columbus Day and replacing it with Election Day, still falling on the first Tuesday of November.

The irony of it is that Americans love to boast their nationality until it comes time to actually exercise their duty to the country. By creating a national holiday, not only does it become easier for citizens to vote, but it also can foster a more communal sense of participating in democracy, rather than just being a bystander.

We are in a pivotal time in American history. Voting is how real change happens, and it is an opportunity for voices to be heard. Having Election Day as a national holiday seems only logical, so that the largest number of voices possible can be heard.