Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Â just proposed a new bill to the Senate that if implemented, could forever transform the face of elections as we know it. This past Tuesday, Sanders introduced legislation that would make Election Day a national holiday in hopes of driving voter participation up and making it easier for citizens everywhere to get to the polls.
The billâ€”which refers to itself as â€œDemocracy Day Act of 2015â€â€”suggests adding an amendment to the United States Code that would formally declare the Tuesday next after the first Monday in November in each even-numbered year, as â€œFederal Election Day.â€
Sanders first introduced this legislation back in November 2014, after a record-low voter turnout.Â As Sanders wrote: â€œIn America, we should be celebrating our democracy and doing everything possible to make it easier for people to participate in the political process.Â Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote.Â While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy.â€
Making Election Day a national holiday would be an important step forward towards promoting an electorate reflective of our democracy. As Sandersâ€™ cited in the original press release on the bill, America is without a doubt not currently at its full potential when it comes to average participation, being ranked embarrassingly low worldwide at 120thÂ by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.Â In hope of changing this ranking, the â€œDemocracy Day Act of 2015â€ is part of a variety of movements Sanders has been working on to enforce fair elections, including other proposals such as automatic voter-registration for eighteen year olds and overturning Citizens United.
While many still complain about the inconvenience of holding elections on a Tuesday in the middle of the week (many democracies around the world purposely hold their elections on weekends) or only for a single day, Sanderâ€™s bill in the long-term could majorly alleviate many concerned citizens worries who formerly couldnâ€™t get to the polls on Election Day otherwise due to things such as work conflicts or other schedule related events.
As SandersÂ cited,Â with over 60 percent overall and 80 percent of young and low-income Americans failing to vote, the very fabric of our democracy and citizen agency is called into question. With all eyes looking towards how current voting trends will impact the results of the 2016 election, Sandersâ€™ proposal could potentially have a major impact on who will be electing the next resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.