Target: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Vermont
Goal: Designate Election Day as a national holiday to increase voter turnout.
Voting is one of the most fundamental rights of a United States citizen. Voter turnout in the 2014 elections was a dismal 36.6 percent – the lowest voter turnout since 1942. More than 60 percent of our population do not vote and more than 80 percent of young and low-income people do not vote. The United States is ranked 120th out of 169 countries for average voter turnout. Establishing Election Day as a holiday is a vital step to increasing voter participation and signaling that all voices matter.
Election Day should be a national holiday so that every citizen has the time and chance to vote. Most Americans spend Election Day at work, far from their polling stations that are located near their homes. Voters must manage commuting, work schedules, and family responsibilities to determine when, or if, they can vote. The most recent Census data showed that most Americans do not vote because it is not convenient to do so. Those that do vote before work, after work, or at lunch need to deal with long lines.
The ability to have one’s voice heard by government should be celebrated and we should do everything possible to make participation in the process easier. There are efforts by some elected officials to suppress votes by reducing early voting hours, voter purges, and voter registration restrictions. Other tactics of voter suppression include poll workers questioning voters’ citizenship, robocalls urging voters to stay home, flyers and advertisements stating that Election Day has changed, job threats if voters do not vote a certain way, and threats of arrest at polling stations for unpaid parking tickets.
There are some states that treat Election Day as a civic holiday. Others require that workers be allowed to take time off to vote without loss of pay. Countries such as Austria, Belgium, Finland, Switzerland, and Spain hold general elections on a weekend to enable as many voters as possible to participate. Other countries have already moved to make a weekday election day a national holiday.
Voting on a Tuesday in November in the United States was decided in 1845 so that farmers would not have conflicts with planting, harvest, or early snow storms. It also allowed farmers to travel to polling stations, usually located in cities, without interrupting their day of worship. Election Day needs to become a national holiday to preserve the intent of our founding fathers and allow every citizen the opportunity to cast their vote.
By signing this petition, you will show support for U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ efforts to make Election Day a national holiday. Democracy is the core of our national belief system. Please help save democracy and preserve the voice of the American people.
Dear Senator Sanders,
Election Day in the United States needs to become a national holiday. All citizens have the right to express their voice in government through voting without thought to commuting schedules, family responsibilities, and polling station accessibility.
Voter participation is highly regarded around the world. Countries such as Austria, Belgium, Finland, Switzerland, and Spain hold general elections on a weekend to increase voter participation. Other countries have already moved to make a weekday election day a national holiday. Shamefully, the United States was ranked 120th out of 169 countries for average voter turnout.
This country was founded on the principles of democracy. We, the undersigned, encourage you to pursue legislation that would allow Election Day to become a national holiday and increase voter participation in the democratic process. Please continue to fight for democracy and the American people.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Matej Kotula