With primaries popping up all over the country, it is hard not to get caught up in the election frenzy. Getting people to the polls for the primaries or the general election in November, however, proves to be difficult.
In the 2012 presidential election, only 58.2 percent of eligible voters actually voted. according to a Huffington Post article titled “Turnout in the 2012 Presidential election” by Michael McDonald.
It should not be that hard to get American citizens to want to exercise one of their constitutional rights: the ability to choose who holds office and how they are governed.
It is incredibly unfortunate that only a little more than half of those eligible to vote put the right into practice, while in some other countries, people are still shedding blood for them to have this right.
To make eligible voters more inclined to participate on Election Day, the U.S. government should make voting more accessible.
Who knows, maybe if people got to take a day off to vote they would spend a little bit of that time researching the candidates, thus creating a more informed electorate.
We should feel lucky to get the opportunity to vote and to have the choice to do so. In Australia, there is a fine for people who don’t vote.
“In Australia, where you see it for instance, they will actually fly polling places out to ranchers in remote areas, to remote aboriginal communities to make sure that every citizen gets to vote,” Skye Christensen, of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems said in the NPR interview “On U.S. Election Day, a look at how others vote.”
The AlterNet article “Voting rights activists launch campaign to Pressure Obama to declare election day 2016 a federal holiday,” by Steven Rosenfeld, even went as far as to say that new voting policies from Republican-controlled legislatures are discouraging likely eligible Democratic voters from getting to the polls. The article said the likely Democratic voters are communities of color and the poor, as well as college and university students.
The article has a different approach as to why a voting holiday is necessary; however, it should not be about getting the stereotypical party voters to the polls. A voting holiday should get everyone to the polls.
“Having a one-time voting holiday would be a huge step towards making voting more convenient and staying true to the values of democracy where everyone participates,” Regina Clemente, director of campaigns at Brave New Films, said in the article.
My proposal? Establish a voting holiday on the second Tuesday of November to give everyone an equal opportunity to get to the polls and not feel unable or rushed to do so. Having a voting holiday would also be a step toward recreating a part of the democracy in this country that has slowly disintegrated. Everyone could equally participate.
Although the U.S. has not provided a holiday for voting in the 2016 presidential election yet, it’s important to not use that as an excuse for not voting.
It is your constitutional right to vote.
You use your First Amendment right to free speech every day, so it shouldn’t be hard to use your right to vote on Election Day.