Opinion: An Election Day holiday? No thanks
If you want to make Election Day a national holiday because you believe American workers should have more days off to hang out with their families — or pound a few brewskis with their buds — I’m all in.
But making Election Day a holiday because you want to increase voter turnout? Count me out.
The entire “voter suppression” conspiracy being advanced by progressives is nonsense on its face. Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, for example, continues to say she lost the 2018 governor’s race because she was the victim of some ballot-blocking scheme.
Georgia had the 12th-highest turnout in the country in 2018, with 57% voter participation — a modern record for the Peach State.
Nationwide, turnout was above 50%, with 35 million more voters than the previous midterm election in 2014. That year, just over 36% of eligible voters showed up. This year, more than 30 million Americans had already voted two weeks before Election Day — an electoral surge never seen before.
If a right-wing cabal really is running a secret, suppress-the-vote operation, it’s the most inept conspiracy since Jussie Smollett and the Subway Sandwich Scam.
These turnout numbers prove that voting just isn’t that hard. If 118 million people did it in 2018 without a holiday, why do we need to shut down the post office and close the banks to get them to do it again?
Yes, it’s true America’s voting-age participation in elections is lower than some other developed countries. In 2016, there were about 245 million Americans ages 18 and older, and only 56% of them voted in the Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton throwdown.
That puts us behind countries like Australia, Belgium, Luxembourg and Singapore, who all have higher participation rates than the United States. You know what else they have? Compulsory voting.
Hey, you know who really has high voter turnout — North Korea. Is that really an improvement?
What America needs isn’t more voters. It needs better voters. People who have some vague notion of what they’re voting for or against, not just people practicing identity politics or voting with their political tribe.
If you’re rushing to the polls to cast your vote to stop the forces of QAnon, or because you seriously believe the same Republican Party that ended slavery wants to bring it back, please — stay home.
I also take umbrage with the idea that people who don’t vote are doing something wrong. Folks who follow the news and keep up with current events sometimes forget that you’re in the minority.
Under normal political circumstances, far more Americans follow the race to the World Series than the White House.
We are not a nation full of civics nerds. We’re a country that will spend as much money this year on ads for videogames as for presidential campaigns (around $5 billion). Where cable TV’s “90-Day Fiancé” is a ratings juggernaut. (If you haven’t seen it — don’t.)
Who wants more of the people who think professional wrestling is real or that 9/11 was an inside job to help pick the next president of the United States? Not me.
It’s time to make voting harder.
For example, the ideal ballot would have all the candidates for all the offices in one alphabetical list on one side, and the offices they seek on the other. If you can draw a line between “Donald Trump” and “President,” your vote counts. If not — you’re out.
Or we could use the “Jumble” ballot. Instead of having the names spelled out, voters would have to pick between “Oje Diben” and “Noladd Rumpt.”
So no — don’t make Election Day a holiday. But if you must, then I insist we change the date of the election to April 15: Tax Day.
It will remind everyone just how much these elections really cost.
Michael Graham is political editor at InsideSources.com.