Making Election Day a Federal Holiday

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Apparently State Senator Steve Hobbs (D-44), whose district is found entirely within Snohomish County, doesn't realize that Snohomish County (like most of Washington State) is all vote-by-mail,* because he introduced a bill asking the federal legislature to make election day a national holiday.

The bill is just completely bizarre in its total inapplicability to Hobbs' own constituents:

WHEREAS, The opportunity to participate in the electoral process, and the act of voting that embodies that opportunity, represent the cornerstone of our democracy, and voters should have ample opportunity to cast meaningful votes

... which they can do for two weeks leading up to election day by mail, or five days in person ...

and WHEREAS, Fostering a high voter turnout is crucial in order to ascertain with greatest certainty the political will of the voting public; and WHEREAS, Voter turnout in Washington's general elections has varied from as high as 82% in presidential elections to as low as 52% in other elections; and WHEREAS, Increasing voter turnout can be directly linked to the ease with which voters can cast their ballots

... which this bill will do nothing to affect ...

and WHEREAS, Although employers are required to allow employees to take time off of work in order to vote, a temporary absence from work may pose hardships for employers, and employees may be reluctant to request time off

... which is absolutely unnecessary ...

and WHEREAS, More public buildings, especially schools, would be available for use as polling places; and more, better trained poll workers, including patriotic high school and college students, might be available to staff polling places on election day

... even though we only have 10 polling places in the entire county anyway, and no shortage of places to put them, or people to staff them ...

Regardless of the merits of the idea, it is very odd to see someone introduce a bill like this that has absolutely no applicability to his own constituents; and when King goes to all-mail, then this would represent Washington State petitioning the federal government to impose a federal holiday on the rest of the nation for something that doesn't have any effect on Washington State.

* I personally don't vote by mail. I never have. I vote in person: Snohomish County always has several days of polling places around the county leading up to election day (what it calles Disabled Access Voting sites) as required by federal law.


Colin Cole said:

Ha. This was actually my bill. I'm the seventeen year old high school student mentioned above.

The premise isn't just to give people the time to go vote, that's a misrepresentation you get just out of the text of the bill. You have to think a little deeper than that.

Yeah, in Washington state we have nearly all vote-by-mail, so needing time to go to the polls isn't a huge issue, okay, this is true. [Nevermind that this is, as many other people pointed out on SoundPolitics, is a petition to the Federal government, and thus Snohomish County, Washington's individual voting laws wouldn't really apply.]

But, if voting day is truly as important as it is, given that it is indeed what we fought the Revolutionary War for, what celebrating July 4th is all about, it's a day worth recognition.

Far, far too many people devalue and underestimate the power of the vote, and do nothing when election day comes around. If the USFG were to at least circle the date on a calendar, draw some attention to it, tell the public "hey, this day is important enough to recognize, because of what it represents and because it's a day you should value," then that would have some effect on the public. How else would you propose the government tell citizens to vote?

Besides. On a state-by-state basis, virtually every state with Election Day being a state-wide holiday has significantly higher voter turnout rates then the states in the surrounding areas. It works, that's the important part.

[I only wish I wish I would have gotten to SoundPolitics on time to post this there.]

pudge Author Profile Page said:

Hi Colin,

I am glad you are getting involved with thinking about politics and legislation.

I know this is a petition to the federal government. I clearly stated it right at the beginning of my post. I simply find it odd that such a petition would come from a legislator in a county where there is no need for it, since we have no real Election Day, but an Election Fortnight. The reason higher voter turnout rates result from holidays is specifically because people have more time to vote, which is something that doesn't affect us.

But more importantly, it's not like people don't know about Election Day. Why does the federal government need to draw MORE attention to it? The day already gets more attention -- every fourth year, at least -- than any holiday we have, including Christmas. I can't see how MORE attention could have any increased effect.

The question "How else would you propose the government tell citizens to vote?" is exceptionally odd to me: it assumes a. that citizens need to be told to vote, and b. that the government should be doing the telling. I don't see a reason to believe either of those things.

And we already have a holiday recognizing our war of independence: as you mention, it's called Independence Day, July 4th. I don't think we need another one. I "celebrate" democractic republicanism all the time.

And frankly, if you are not voting now, that's probably a good thing: you don't care enough to vote, so you probably shouldn't vote. I am not one who believes everyone should vote. I fully agree with you that the vote is undervalued by many, but if they don't value their own vote, then I won't value it either, because they probably don't care enough to inform themselves to make their vote worth anything.

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