Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders wants to make Election Day a national holiday, according to a new proposal that he’s written.
Sanders’ motivations for the bill are the poor voter turnout from Tuesday’s election in which Republicans handily defeated Democrats in most major congressional races, retaking the Senate and adding seats in the already-red House of Representatives.
Sanders is a left-of-center independent from Vermont, a state that had its worst voter turnout in recorded history. Overall, turnout hasn’t been this bad since the 1940s, Mediaite reports.
In comments to the Hill, Bernie Sanders further explained his reasons.
“Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote,” Sanders said in the statement. “While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy.”
Sanders’ comments seem to echo the Democratic stance that voters felt like they didn’t have a voice when, in fact, voter information is more readily available than it’s ever been with all states having online access where one can check their voting precinct.
There are also numerous campaign ads in the months leading up to Election Day, which Sanders would like to re-dub “Democracy Day.” Early voting is also easier than it’s ever been at any point in American history.
Considering that voter turnout has been higher in previous elections when no such conveniences existed, opponents argue that making Election Day a national holiday would do little good because most Americans sit out because they feel like they’re not being heard rather than simply not having the opportunity or time to vote.
President Obama has also previously responded to a petition similar to what Sanders is wanting. In that response, the White House stated that there were “economic concerns” in giving the nation a day off from work for such a purpose.
Still, for Sanders, something must be done because Tuesday’s showing was an “international embarrassment.”
He also believes there should be public funding for elections to “blunt the impact of negative campaign ads bankrolled by billionaires and big corporations.”
That part of the bill could be doubly hard to get through, though, since Democrats and Republicans heavily take advantage of it during campaign season.
What do you think, readers? Is Bernie Sanders right? Should Election Day be a national holiday, and would it do any good in boosting turnout?
[Image via Flickr Creative Commons]