National Election Day

ElectionAmerica is facing a contentious battle fraught with laws to prevent people from voting and rules making it harder to vote. Some claim that law makers are rigging elections through means such as gerrymandering and making it easier to purge voter polls. Some studies argue that people have stopped voting because the US holds too many elections. Many believe that their votes are not even counted. However, the election of 2000 is a stark reminder of the importance of a single vote. America could be in a very different financial situation had more Americans made it a priority to cast their vote. As Americans honor the 50 years since the signing of the Civil Rights Act some states have found ways to disenfranchise many of the same voters the law aims to protect. So legislators should balance such negative laws with something more proactive; creating a National Election Day. A Federal holiday every other year so that citizens can exercise their right to vote without any other priority to stand in their way.

As much as a citizen might try to prioritize getting to the booth, the legislators have made it a priority to create paths making voting harder. Many are left standing in line for hours across the country. As jobs are scarce in a recovering economy, some are not willing to put their jobs at risk to exercise the right to vote. Some countries make voting mandatory, prioritizing election day by closing down services, city offices, and schools. Of the 169 countries that hold free elections, the United States ranks 120 for voter turn-out. For a nation that holds itself as the greatest in the world, others look to the US as an example in elections. The creation of a National Election Day could put America back in that place of leadership when it comes to democratic elections.

The idea of a National Election Day is not a foreign one. The idea, discussed in the past, never quite made it to legislative talk. In a nation full of holidays that honor birthdays, service days, and battles that secured the right to vote, why is there not a National Election Day? Election day is the only day that all citizens are equal; a day that gives all Americans equal power to use their voice. Yet it is a day that not everyone takes responsibility for; one that some feel could be made a requirement for the gift of living in the world’s greatest nation. Instead of making it a requirement it could be made handsomely beneficial. Public transportation would be free. Schools would be closed as not to interfere with the voting process and allow teachers and administrators the ability to make their voices heard also. Restaurants could offer discounts for citizens that show their proof of voting after polls close, and a tax credit for those who vote.

Countries like Australia and Argentina fine citizens for not voting. If individuals do not like being forced to get health insurance they certainly won’t like being fined for skipping the voting booth. For years many have argued that the ills of society could not be blamed on those that refuse to vote. Fact is the people to blame for what is wrong with today’s society are the citizens that don’t make it to the voting booth. Whatever one’s excuse for not voting is, no one can argue that citizens owe it to the millions of men, women, children, soldiers, and immigrants that have died for the right to vote. Thousands of soldiers never made it home from the battlefields to exercise that right, our legislators owe it to them to create a National Election Day.

Opinion by Kimberly Beller

PBS News Hour
New York Times

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