Saturday, October 1, 2016

Let's review: The absence of a federal Election Day holiday is not theproblem

I've been seeing a lot of items on my Facebook feed the last day or two showing President Obama and Senators Warren and Sanders touting the notion of an Election Day federal holiday. 

 I still say that's a solution in search of a problem.

As I wrote in May:

A federal holiday for Election Day (or moving it to the weekend) misses the point. The problem is hardly that Americans are yearning for more time to participate in the Norman Rockwellesque living tableau of exercising their freedom to vote.[...]

Consider the status quo, where Republican-controlled statehouses, encouraged and abetted by the Roberts Court, are ever on the lookout for innovative ways – as well as tried-and-true favorites from the days of Jim Crow – to suppress voting by the wrong people, such as making them stand in line for hours at a polling place, perhaps only to find out that it had mysteriously run out of Democratic ballots, or had been deliberately understaffed, or moved to the far side of town, or closed altogether, or required some form of ID that was expensive if not completely unobtainable. And that's if they haven't had their names struck from the rolls by some bureaucratic error (always an "error;" never a "purge.")

All that a federal holiday for Election Day would accomplish is letting them draw holiday pay for the experience, rather than having to take the day off on their own nickle. I suppose that's an improvement, but not much of one. It certainly doesn't do anything to get at the basic problem, which is that one of our two political parties has vote suppression baked into its basic electoral strategy.

If you want a voting system that tends to raise participation while being nearly, if not completely, impervious to suppression (as well as statistically nonexistence “voter fraud”), you want the Oregon vote-by-mail model.

And as a bonus, you won't have to listen to the Chanber-of-Commerce types complain about yet another federal holiday for which workers will expect to get paid.


John said...

Of course, you're correct. Here in Oregon we vote by ballot-by-mail as well as becoming enrolled to vote with attaining a driver's license. It's inexpensive and inclusive as well as being difficult to tamper with.

So of course Republicans don't like it much.

Nothstine said...

Thanks, John! Meanwhile we wait for the rest of the country to catch up.