As support grows for a federal Election Day holiday, experts warn of some potential challenges

WASHINGTON — In two-thirds of the country, voters must work on Election Day.


A Pew Research Center survey shows more Americans support making it a federal holiday. It finds nearly 80 percent of Democrats and nearly 70 percent of Republicans favor the concept.

Voters seem to love the idea too.

“I think making it a holiday would make voting more accessible to a lot of working people who may not have access to mail-in ballots or other means of voting. I don’t see why not,” said voter Laura Sneller.

“I think more ways for voters to get out and not have to disturb their lives in order to do so is really helpful,” said voter Bryan Fletcher.

But political analysts say the reality of a national voting day comes with some challenges.

“If you give a national holiday, the turnout increases is suspected, thereby advantaging Democrats or Republicans, which means that a party would be disadvantaged and they’re obviously not incentivized then to follow through with that,” said Casey Burgat, Assistant Professor and Director of Legislative Affairs at George Washington University.

It could also cause a ripple effect in other industries.

“Banks shut down, post offices are closed, metros, buses run on decreased schedules,” said Burgat.

The National Taxpayers Union says creating another federal holiday is also expensive especially when you factor in the federal workers who may not get the day off.

“You think of like the TSA, for instance, would actually be perhaps even busier than usual. So you have to provide them with bonus pay because they are working during a federal holiday. You add it all up. And the cost of taxpayers can be approaching $1 billion in added cost,” said Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President for the National Taxpayers Union.

Another national holiday could also negatively impact non-government workers too.

“Businesses that depend on tourism, vacation, restaurants, even retail could see an increase in activity. So they’re going to need to have workers there. They’re not going to be able to give workers off in order to go vote,” said Arnold. “In addition to that, you can see school shut down when schools shut down Some parents are going to have to find alternative childcare options out there and that’s going to be hard to come by.”

However, experts say offering more ways to vote is the key to increasing turnout overall.

“Not on Election Day or even a holiday but a season, right? Over a period of weeks or potentially days including weekends to allow folks to get to the polls outside of actual business and working hours, to provide mail-in ballots, to provide potentially online ballots,” said Burgat.

Democrats introduced a bill to make Election Day a federal holiday last month, but it hasn’t been taken up for a vote.

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