On Election Day and Holidays

Also how to get people to vote.

A few times this week, on both Twitter and Reddit, I鈥檝e seen the idea floated to scrap Columbus Day and make Election Day a national holiday. I really like this idea, both because Columbus Day is stupid and because having Election Day be a holiday could get more people to vote.

Except, I鈥檓 worried that it wont actually get more people to vote. In fact, I can see it going horribly wrong and preventing people from voting.

National holidays don鈥檛 always give people a day off of work. Sure, more people would have it off than before, but those in retail and food service would almost assuredly be forced to work longer hours so those businesses can attract the office workers that are now free. Like happens on most other national holidays. But the main reason behind making Election Day a holiday is to get those who cannot get off of work to the polls. Those who would benefit from having a day off are already more likely to be able to vote, holiday or not.

If we want to make Election Day a national holiday, and we should, maybe we should do it a bit differently. First, it should be a national holiday, but that alone is not enough. We need to require that employers give employees time off to go vote. Having the holiday isn鈥檛 really necessary if we have a good enough regulation to require time off for voting. But I think a holiday would be a great way to get people to acknowledge the importance of voting and celebrate the process, so I think we should do both.

Of course all of this could be avoided if we just made voting easier. Automatic voter registration and mail-in ballots could work wonders for turnout (just please no electronic voting). If we really wanted to go crazy, we could even try a better voting system and actually have viable third parties. But alas, change like that is big and not going to happen all at once. So we work with the system we have and move towards the system we want.

My representatives will be getting some mail about all of this.

Note that today is the last day to register to vote in the general election in Ohio (and many other states). Please register and vote. More info at vote.org.