One simple thing that could actually make a difference

There is one easily-achievable change that could have a massive impact on American politics.

  • Make election day a public holiday.

This is a trivially simple issue that could have a huge impact. Weekday voting effectively disenfranchises a large proportion of the American working class.

Across the country, inadequate minimum wage levels and indefensible delays at polling booths renders the franchise economically inaccessible for many Americans. In the “right to work” states, merely requesting time off on voting day is an open invitation to destitution.

In Obama’s first years, when the Dems held the majority, this change could have been achieved effortlessly. All it requires is the proclamation of a national holiday.

Why not make this a leading issue? It’s achievable, effective, and easy to communicate. It isn’t everything, but it’d be a useful standard bearer.


I like the idea of a day off to vote. I understand that voting in Australia is compulsory, so a national holiday would almost be a requirement. In Canada, the law is that eligible voters must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on election day. If one’s hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, their employer must give them time off. (There are also advance polls, of course).

I don’t know the rule in other countries, or if that would be enough time in the US, given the stories I read about hours-long wait times to vote, which don’t happen here.

Cue the economists going, “but…but…productivity…GDP…APOCALYPSE”.

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Actually, we do it on weekends.

But trying for that in America would probably evoke demented religious/agrarian objections, so a public holiday seems an easier get. It’s hard to find an ordinary voter who objects to a day off.

This seems like such a no-brainer that I wonder if there’s some sort of cap we’ve reached on national holidays, where adding one would require getting rid of another, and no President wants to be the guy who got rid of Presidents’ Day or MLK Day.

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