Election Day should be a holiday

I’m looking at this list of federal holidays, and you know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking fuck Columbus Day. Who the hell cares about Columbus Day except for mattress stores?

Instead, let’s scratch Columbus Day and make Election Day a national holiday. Turnout on Election Day was only 36.6 percent in 2014, according to Senator Bernie Sanders from Vermont. If we made Election Day a holiday, it would be easier for people to vote. People would actually start to look forward to Election Day, too. By the way, you know you else would like to make Election Day a holiday? Senator Bernie Sanders. I like that guy.

If push comes to shove, I’d be willing to keep Columbus Day as a holiday and just add a new holiday. But really, do you remember what you did on Columbus Day a month ago? No? Me neither.

I’m thinking we can make Election Day a pretty fun holiday. Vote in the morning, BBQ in the afternoon, and drink or set off fireworks in the evening. That’s a holiday that a lot of people could get behind.

44 Responses to Election Day should be a holiday (Leave a comment)

  1. Totally agree, I hope Congress actually takes it up and makes it happen. Only issue I can think of is that Columbus Day (at least where I work) is not usually one of the “real” holidays like Thanksgiving or Christmas. Everyone would need to treat it just as real and just as seriously. 4th of July style!

  2. Start a petition at Whitehouse.gov. I’ll sign it and share it.


  3. Pretty wild thoughts about Columbus day you got there. Though, holiday on vote day should be catered to let more people participate as this day is based on their decision.

  4. Ryan Satterfield

    Columbus day was last month? We should get rid of it. I think the idea of making election day a holiday and encouraging businesses to let people have that day off would be great. I am pretty confident the turnout of voters would rise.

  5. Okay, Matt, what are you testing? And can we swear without it being moderated, or will that affect your test?

  6. Hey Matt,

    Voting day in Australia is always a Saturday and there’s a long held tradition of community groups like schools (often used as polling places), cub scouts, emergency service volunteers etc providing a ‘sausage sizzle’, bake sales etc as a fundraiser for those who pass through to vote.

    Of course, voting here is compulsory so Saturday is a no-brainer, but nonetheless, I think you’re definitely on the right track 🙂

    Happy Thanksgiving.


    • Yeah it’s pretty awesome how we do it down here… for the benefit of your readers, our elections are usually “done and dusted” in about 6 weeks once every 3 years or so.

      The Prime Minister actually gets to decide when the election happens and during an “election year” there is plenty of speculation about when it will happen! Will they call it early? Will they call it late? No body know except the boss.

      The sausage sizzles (BBQ’s) are very important and the location of which often plays a big part in the polling booth people choose to go to! I don’t know when that tradition started, but’s it’s heaps of fun.

  7. Good idea — actually Columbus was a terrible navigator. He was looking for India and ended up in America, and named the people who lived here Indians. They never called themselves that. Columbus did. I never understood how there could be a holiday named after him. It’s ridiculous, IMHO.

  8. I am totally agree with you Cutts, we should get rid of Columbus.

  9. You’re a fucking legend, Matt. A legend.

  10. This entry reminded me of an interesting article on Columbus Day. This should give you an impetus!

  11. There are very civilized countries where election day is a holiday. There are less civilized countries where election day is Saturday or Sunday. And then there is the US.

  12. Wow, Matt, sufficiently fired up about voting to drop an F-bomb. I’ve never felt more excitement over the creation of a new holiday. You’re a true evangelist.

  13. Well, here in Israel it is a national holiday. They’re now considering having the municipal election day a national holiday as well. It’s a nice carrot, but personally I feel it must be balanced by a stick as it is done in certain countries (eg. Belgium), where it is considered a civic duty to vote, one that’s punishable by a fine.
    If you wish to voice your anti-governmental feelings you can always vote a blank.

  14. You have to be careful quoting a politician as justification for anything. Bernie Sanders is a great guy and all that, but much of what I have read recently from him isn’t stellar (like some of the living wage stuff… ).

    You only have to go a couple of pages to check out the study he cites, and you can see where the numbers are a little bit slanted:

    The preferred turnout rates are those calculated with the voting-eligible population as the denominator. The voting-eligible population (VEP) represents an estimate of persons eligible to vote regardless of voter registration status in an election and is constructed by modifying the voting-age population (VAP), by components reported in the right-most columns (scroll right in the spreadsheet).

    That means that the turn out is not based on actual registered voters, but rather on an estimate of the entire potential voting age population in each state, not actual hard numbers. So as an example, in Florida with under 12 million registered voters, the vote count over 6 million means the turn out was over 50%, and not 42% as the “study” reports. If anything, the study seems to have been created to be as overwhelmingly negative about voter turnout as possible.

    That said, election day should be a holiday if and only if people are actually going to vote, and that the process of getting registered and getting to vote is made easy enough for people to do. The US faces real problems with not having a single registration standard for all states, making it often hard for people to actually register to vote even when they want to, and all sort of other issues like polling stations far from home, hopelessly long ballots with tons of issues, gerrymandering of districts to suppress voters, and the like. Just giving everyone a day off to vote won’t fix the problem – it might even make it worse by turning election time into a three day weekend where nobody will bother to vote.

  15. The answer: Vote by mail. Check the stats, high participation in every state it is used. Simple & effective.

  16. So you want everyone that has a 3 day weekend to give that up a Monday to be off on a Tuesday? I have a better idea, how about we make Election Day the Tuesday after Columbus day and make it a 4 day weekend.

  17. Then maybe just maybe we’d see an opportunity to elect state legislators who’d repeal the most egregious photo ID laws. Another topic with dropping an F- bomb over n…maybe more than one.

  18. Worth dropping an f-bomb over! Is there anything less annoying than auto correct?

  19. How often is election day? Is it every year?

    What about moving the election to the weekend? In Germany we have them on Sundays.

  20. Its a surprise to me. In India even for local elections (we call it panchayat) we have holidays. Your concern is right, It should be a holiday at democratic nation.

  21. The latest SHRM figures show only 16% of businesses close on Columbus Day ( http://www.shrm.org/research/surveyfindings/articles/pages/SHRM-2015-Holiday-Schedules.aspx ).

    Making election day a federal holiday does little to cause businesses to close. Lets say 16% close, this may improve turnout some, but only in a selective population who probably would be allowed to arrive at work an hour late if they go vote with no ill consequences.

    The same survey shows that 67% of businesses are closed on the weekend (and 76% on Sundays). We already know early voting on the weekends increases the access of low-income minorities, who probably work for companies that don’t close on Columbus Day and would not for Election Day. Expanding early voting or moving elections to the weekend is a much simpler way to expand access. Most religious folk don’t mind voting on Sunday, many churches even have buses after services to help their members reach the polling places where they have early voting on Sundays.

    Let’s all support a solution where 76% of businesses already close rather than creating a holiday that will only give access to those whose companies like to give off every federal holiday.

  22. Matt Cutts using a swear word in a post? Who would have thunk that :.)

  23. I think having election as a holiday is a good idea. We’ll just need to make sure that businesses remain closed that day, otherwise you have the same problem with low-wage workers not being able to vote because they have to go to one of their three or four jobs.

    Given that K-Mart opens at 6am today (Thanksgiving day) that might be too tall an order, I’m afraid.

  24. I know what you and Bernie are going for here – stronger dem turnout, b/c dems got smoked. But the problem with it is that only the privileged class gets holidays. The auto workers, fast food, retail, and other democratic voters would still be tied up at work. This would probably boost republican turnout more than dems.

    A better idea to the same end result would be to extend House term limits to four years and make elections every four years, on the presidential. Everyone turns out to vote for presidents, while mostly angry, rich, old caucasians turn out for mid-terms.

  25. Great idea! Our country could use another holiday and especially one that brings us together.

  26. Absolutely agree.

    On another note, you woke up! I love the recent rash of posts. XOXO sounds terrific.

  27. In addition to the sleep hardware industry, I think that Columbus Day is also important to Italian-Americans. Most other holidays are important to some group or another, as well. Now that I think about it, Thanksgiving might be the most politically-correct holiday to eliminate… and close to national election day, so a pretty even trade! Oh and fuck sweet potatoes!

  28. I’m all for increasing voter turnout but I don’t think that Election Day should be a holiday, it will just be turned into a day to offer discounts and attracts business, like Columbus day. Even September 11, in now being commercialized with companies using images of the twin towers as an intro to the discounts that they are offering.

  29. Hi Matt,

    I’ve had your blog in my feed for a long time and I was surprised by the tone of this post, and the prominent F-bomb up there. I don’t think I’ve ever commented before, but I wanted to chime in and say kudos, good for you, and keep it up. Not the F-bomb per se, but the overall direction you are going.

    It must be hard to balance your opinion and you obligation as a representative of Google, but neither should be worth more than the other.

    And lastly, thanks, for putting yourself out there all these years and for helping to shape the web.

  30. See, creating good content everyday can be frustrating. It’s not that easy.

  31. I am totally agree with you Cutts, we should get rid of Columbus

  32. 1. Low turnout is a symptom, not a cause. Fix the problem, don’t try to paper over it.

    2. Not voting at all is in reality a vote against the very concept of democracy and for the status quo aka letting others decide your future for you. This nonsense about “making a statement” is just that: a nonsense talking point spread by those who want you to let them make the decisions. Anyone who falls for that is too stupid and gullible to live in a democracy, and should consider emigrating to one of the many countries that aren’t.

    3. There’s no requirement to vote for every office on the ballot. Ask yourself why those encouraging you not to vote at all never point that out.

    4. The very act of voting, even if you only vote for some offices, is a strong signal to those eventually elected that they are being watched by interested, concerned citizens who made the effort to vote.

    5. If absentee, early, mail-in, and same-day registration haven’t fixed the low turnout problem, it’s clear that ease of voting is NOT the biggest problem here.

    6. Election Day isn’t a holiday (or on a weekend) for good reason: drinking and voting don’t mix. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_laws_of_the_United_States and note how many states used to require bars and liquor stores to close until after the polls closed. That wasn’t based on a whim, but on experience – even though most of those laws were later repealed.

    7. What’s FAR worse than low turnout in midterms is low turnout in contested primaries in solid party (Democratic or Republican) areas. In such areas in most states, California and Louisiana being two notable exceptions, that’s where the actual choice is made – yet so many people don’t bother to participate.

  33. Hey Matt occasional read through the years have to admit I did not peg you for the f bomb type either. I’m inspired, and now reconsidering my decision to not post my off the cuff quite incendiary Thanksgiving thoughts. You’re a bad influence man!