President Barack Obama Believes U.S. Should Implement Election Day As National Holiday
May 13, 2016 07:01 AM EDT
President Barack Obama has expressed his stance on the issue that Election Day should be a national holiday in the United States. He said that he feels it is time that the U.S. follows this during his interview with Rutgers University.
According to The Daily Targum, the Rutgers University's school paper, they talked about the topic of a low voter turnout in the United States as compared to other developed nations. In other countries, the government holds elections on weekends or if it falls on a weekday, it becomes a national holiday, so the publication asked Obama if he felt it is time for the U.S. to follow such lead.
Obama then answered that the United States is the only advanced democratic country that makes it difficult for people to vote. It is mostly due to the fact that the U.S. allows individual states to determine their own process for structuring how their elections will take place. He applauded Oregon for doing a better job in making voting easier such as extending mail-in voting and increasing tools like online voting in order to give people flexibility.
He continued to say that the democracy of the nation is not "going to function well when only half or a third of eligible voters are participating," Slate reported. Obama previously endorsed the idea of mandatory voting but this is the first time that he supported the move to make Election Day a national holiday. The idea has been backed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. He introduced an election-holiday bill back in 2015.
Think Progress reported that despite agreeing that the Election Day should be turned into a national holiday, Obama did not say anywhere in the interview if it will be translated into action. A collation of progressive groups launched a campaign last year urging the president to make the Election Day a holiday.
The groups such as Common Cause, Democracy Matters, and the Nation, argued that making Election Day a federal holiday will make it easier and more convenient for people to vote. The matter should be passed by the Congress but Obama could issue an executive order saying that federal workers could be given a paid day off during the general elections.