Every year when Election Day comes around, there is an outpouring of people begging others to get out and vote. But what about the people who work all day, every day, and can’t take time off? Voting is a right for every American citizen, so we should make it accessible to every American citizen. Election Day needs to be a national holiday. If we aim to live in a democracy, everyone should have an influence in our government, however small, because for most people, voting is the extent of that influence.
There are many people for whom taking time off work means not making enough money to pay their bills or losing their job to someone who can be there when they can’t. Due to this, many people can’t get to the polls to vote. Voting by mail is always an option, but there is currently a great lack of trust towards voting by mail in our country. The president himself discouraged voting by mail during the first presidential debate, making a number of false claims surrounding voter fraud. However, if as the president has discussed, the government wants voters to vote at the polling places instead of by mail, they need to actually ensure that everyone is able to make it to the polls. In the 2016 election, it is estimated that 100 million people didn’t vote. Sure, many of those people are probably the kind who “don’t get involved in politics.” But without a doubt, a significant number wanted to cast their ballot, but simply were unable to make it to a polling station.
In addition, not having Election Day be a national holiday unfairly affects people in lower-income communities. People who have more money and are likely in higher positions at companies can take time off without it affecting them, and those people probably don’t work full days in the first place. People with less money have to work longer hours and can’t take time off of work without it greatly affecting them. Therefore, getting to the polling place might not be an option for them.
12 states, including West Virginia and New York, have already made Election Day a holiday. It would not take much for the entire country to follow in their footsteps. It would take even less for Berkeley to do so. The whole state of California does not have to agree to make Election Day a holiday, but Berkeley can. Then, if Berkeley makes the day a holiday, all of California might decide to join them.
We need to guarantee that everyone can vote by giving all workers a full day off, paying them to take that day and use it to vote. If we fail to do this, we fail to protect our democracy.