Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is pushing to make Election Day a federal holiday to increase voter turnout and to make it easier for Americans to get to the polls.
The self-described democratic socialist is introducing a proposal to amend the U.S. code and incorporate “Federal Election Day” as “the Tuesday following the first Monday in November in each even-numbered year,” The Hill reported.
In the legislation, Sanders states the 2002 Help America Vote Act, passed by the George W. Bush administration in response to polling problems during the 2000 presidential election, would be the law to amend with the changes to Election Day procedures.
At a campaign speech last week, Sanders said his proposal would make it so every American has the time to cast a ballot and “would indicate a national commitment to create a vibrant democracy.” In addition to this proposal, the Vermont senator introduced legislation that would automatically register 18-year-olds to vote. Sanders has also spent time pushing for campaign finance reform.
Just three days after the 2014 midterm elections, Sanders released a statement calling for “Democracy Day” to be implemented, or making Election Day a federal holiday. He also criticized the low voter turnout rate, which was just less than 40 percent of all voters nationwide, calling it an “international embarrassment,” Mediaite reported.
While many political analysts agree with Sanders that Election Day should be a national holiday, others have different views. A 2013 article from The New York Times suggested moving Election Day to the weekend: “Far too many working people are hamstrung on Tuesday; they can vote only before or after work, when the lines are especially long and when people whose livelihoods depend on getting to work on time and getting the hourly pay cannot afford to wait an hour or more. But adding an Election Day holiday is simply too costly.”