Acton resident; member of Indivisible Massachusetts, a political advocacy group
Maximum participation. Isn’t that what democracy looks like?
In America we should be honoring our democracy and doing everything possible to make it easier to participate. Election Days should be holidays so that everyone has the opportunity to vote.
We should not be satisfied with a “democracy” in which large numbers of our people don’t vote.
In the 2016 presidential election, 61.4 percent of those eligible voted. In midterm elections, turnout was just 41.9 percent in 2014, though rising to 53.4 percent in 2018. According to one survey, 35 percent of those not voting in 2014 said they didn’t because of work or school conflicts. Another poll found that nearly two-thirds of Americans would support an election holiday.
Our current voting day was established in 1845 to accommodate agrarian and church-going voters. The day was often a time for political events, celebrations, bands, and barbeques. The date was chosen to suit the era.
House Democrats have proposed a national election holiday, along with other voter access options, in the “For The People Act.”
The idea of a national holiday is also gaining popularity among 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including US Senator Elizabeth Warren.
Can even local actions help build momentum and public support for a national holiday?
Sandusky, Ohio recently replaced its Columbus Day with an election day holiday. Boston’s City Council is currently exploring making election day a holiday in the city.
There are various options to explore, from designating the current Election Day a national holiday to making Veterans Day also Election Day.
Additional voter access efforts include early voting, allowing people to vote absentee without an excuse, same day registration, and mail-in voting. These are available in various states but not consistently across the country.
An election day holiday would offer citizens dropped from voter rolls for voter suppression purposes and honest errors a chance to go to their local election office, correct the problem, and cast their ballot. Voters faced with ridiculously long waiting lines would have the option of returning later in the day. Voters with difficulties connecting with assigned voting locations could address that obstacle.
Isn’t this what Democracy looks like?
Dennis J. Galvin
Westford resident; Republican State Committee member
The proposal to make our national election a federal holiday is one of several advanced at the state and national levels in recent years purportedly to make voting easier. Others include automatic voter registration, early voting, and same day voter registration. While it would be nice to think these efforts are being driven by civic-mindedness, the safer bet is to assume that politics are behind it. Most of these are really intended to help Democratic candidates.
The anger and frustration many Democrats continue to vent over their loss in the 2016 election is not all due to President Donald Trump’s abrasive personality. Some of it appears directed at the relatively low voter turn-out in that consequential election: 61.4 percent of Americans voted that year, below the 63.6 percent who voted in the 2008 election that gave President Obama his historic victory. The black vote, which Democrats historically rely upon, was only 59.6 percent in 2016.
The outcome suggests key elements of the Democratic coalition were not enthused enough about their candidates to come out and vote for them.
Yet rather than reviewing their platform and candidates to see how they could become more competitive, Democrats have embarked upon a strategy of doing everything short of paying people to come to the polls to increase their turnout. There are today no significant impediments to voting. Nationwide, polls are open throughout the day for anyone who wants to participate.. Absentee and early voting are now well-established practices.
The problem is that Democratic voters in 2016 either didn’t like their choices or were simply not interested in voting. Democrats can at least take solace that many of those voters did not go to the polls and vote Republican.
The movement to make our national election a federal holiday is a gimmick Democrats and their supporters believe will increase turnout of their base. Their plan, however, would require the American people to pay for its implementation through lost business and wages. Making Election Day a national holiday is simply not necessary, and would more than likely not affect turnout. People who vote will vote; people who don’t, will simply sleep in.
This is an informal poll, not a scientific survey. Please vote only once.
As told to Globe correspondent John Laidler. To suggest a topic, please contact email@example.com.