Election day should be a national holiday


Official voting ballots to be sent on Election Day.

As a nearly eighteen-year-old who will be able to vote for the first time in the upcoming midterm elections this November, Election Day has been on my mind much more than it has ever been—and not just because of the prospect of voting.

Every two years since 1845, Election Day in the United States has been held on “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.” This year, Election Day will be on Tuesday, November 8.

Tuesday is the second day of the work week, a day when many if not most eligible voters are occupied either at work or in school. For many low-income workers who live paycheck-to-paycheck and rely on every day of work to survive, taking even one day off to go to the voting polls is not a feasible option. Some states, including California, address this issue by providing mail-in ballots to all registered voters. Others have established Election Day as a state holiday so that all voters are free to participate in their most important duty as citizens without fear of losing their jobs or paychecks.

Because of my birthday’s placement in late October, after eligible California voters have been sent their absentee ballots, I will likely have to go in person to the polls to cast my vote. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. Voting in person and receiving the ‘I Voted’ sticker at the polls has always seemed much more exciting.

However, Tuesday, November 8 is a school day. I and any other student voters across the country will have to either miss part of the school day or give up homework time after school—time that is especially valuable for a senior in the middle of the college application process.

Regardless of the time it will take, going to the in-person polls is not exceedingly difficult for me compared to many other voters across the country. Nevertheless, as Election Day approaches, I have continued to wonder why it has never been federally declared a national holiday.

Voting is an essential element of our country’s republic, as well as the most important civic duty an American citizen possesses. The United States has long been considered a symbol of democracy for the world and democracy cannot exist without voting. It would make sense to take measures to ensure that all eligible voters are able to cast their ballots easily and without interruption to their lives. If a worker’s job and income will be put at risk by taking a day off, that worker is very unlikely to do so. Designating Election Day as a national holiday would ensure that all eligible voters have the unobstructed ability to go to the polls.

In a country formed on the principle that all powers of government are bestowed by the people, the right of those people to cast their votes should be federally guaranteed in the form of a national holiday.