Should Presidential Election Day be declared a National Holiday to Facilitate Voting?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015
(graphic: Steve Straehley, AllGov)

Fed up with efforts to suppress voter turnout, a coalition of progressive groups is urging President Barack Obama to issue an executive order making November 2016’s Election Day a federal holiday.


Organizations and news sites including Common Cause, Crooks & Liars, Daily Kos, Democracy Matters, People For the American Way and The Nation say declaring Election Day a holiday will facilitate voter turnout and help counteract new voter ID laws adopted by GOP-controlled state governments that unfairly target minorities and poor people.


“By making next year’s election a national holiday, President Obama would signal a strong national commitment to voting and help serve as a counter-balance to the 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted the historic Voting Rights Act,” the groups said in a prepared statement. “Since this decision, nearly every state has introduced bills to make voting harder, and many states have done just that through discriminatory voter ID bills or drastic cuts to early voting days, same-day registration, and other suppressive measures.”


Miles Rapoport, president of Common Cause, said an Election Day holiday would “encourage citizen action and engagement so that any one of us can be a precinct captain, poll watcher, or poll worker.”


The proposed executive order would make next November 8 a one-time federal holiday, giving all U.S. government workers a day off and encourage states and businesses to follow, according to the coalition.


AlterNet noted “presidents have the authority to declare a one-time federal holiday and have occasionally done so, such as honoring a former president’s passing. Still, the U.S. is unlike many western countries that treat their nationwide election day as a holiday, encouraging turnout.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Voting Rights Activists Launch Campaign to Pressure Obama to Declare Election Day 2016 a Federal Holiday (by Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet)

It's Time to Make Election Day a National Holiday (Once Every Four Years!) (by Russell C. Smith and Michael Foster, Huffington Post)


Leave a comment