Josh Harkinson

Josh Harkinson

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Born in Texas and based in San Francisco, Josh covers tech, labor, drug policy, and the environment. PGP public key.

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Why Don't We Make Election Day A Holiday?

| Fri Nov. 7, 2014 6:12 PM EST

An estimated 37 percent of eligible voters cast ballots during Tuesday's midterm elections—the lowest voter turnout since 1942. It wasn't that much of an anomaly, however: For decades, voter turnout in non-presidential election years has hovered far below what it was in the mid-19th century, when it peaked at around 70 percent. The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance ranks the United States 120th out of 169 countries for average voter turnout.

Today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) proposed a way to reverse this trend: Make election day a national holiday. "Election day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote," Sanders said in a press release announcing the Democracy Day Act. "While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy."

Sadly, Congressional Republicans, who've made voter suppression a key part of their electoral strategy, are about as likely to support a voting holiday as they are to declare war on Christmas.

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