LANSING — State Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) introduced a resolution today that called for Congress to create a national Election Day holiday. The holiday would strengthen our democracy by giving people who work long hours, night jobs or multiple jobs the time they need to get to their polling location and cast a vote.
“We have many national holidays that commemorate events from past, but this one would be a first national holiday to impact our future,” Rep. Wittenberg said. “Voting is the single most fundamental thing a citizen can do to be involved in government. Elections shape our communities and our nation, from electing local schools and library board members and city, village and township commissioners to the president of the United States.”
The U.S. works hard to foster democracy around the globe, but voter turnout in our nation is often low. Turnout for the 2014 general election was the lowest it has been in a 72 years, according to the Washington Post, with just 36.4 percent of voting-eligible citizens casting a ballot. For many people who work long or irregular hours — as well as voters who face long lines at polling places before or after work — time limitations are a considerable barrier to voting.
“Rather than making it harder to vote and putting stumbling blocks in the way of citizens who want to participate in their own government, we should be looking for ways to increase voter turnout,” Wittenberg said. “By making Election Day a national holiday, not only are we sending the message that voting matters, but making it easier for many people to fulfill their constitutional right and vote.”