10.28.2014 2

Election Day should be a national holiday 

#voteBy Rick Manning

Millions of dollars and tens of thousands of man hours are spent every two years trying to get Americans to care enough about candidates or issues enough to go to the polls and vote.

Yet, for 146.6 million Americans who have jobs, voting is more complicated than it need be.  Why?  Because they have to leave home at the crack of dawn and commute to work, only to return after the sun has set.  Anyone who has worked at a polling place knows that the early morning and evening are the prime time for turnout, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

While some advocate for mail in voting and other easily corrupted absentee schemes, I think a more simple approach should be taken.

Make Election Day a national holiday, but eliminate all other excuses for not voting with one exception for military and diplomatic personnel stationed overseas.

By creating a new national holiday to vote, Congress would be elevating the importance of citizen participation in the process to a new level.  Few would not know that it was Election Day, overcoming the first hurdle for turnout.  By getting rid of the alternative voting methods which beg to be abused, the outcomes of elections would likely be more honest.

A study published in the journal “Electoral Studies” concludes that illegal aliens are playing a much greater role in our national elections than anyone had previously suspected.  The authors wrote of their study at the Washington Post, “Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.”

There can be little doubt that the single best possible form of election integrity is having everyone show up at their own polling place in person to vote, and by making the day a national holiday, most of the legitimate excuses for not participating are eliminated.

The idea is not perfect.  In fact, it is flawed in that there are some who will be less able to vote due to long-term illness, unplanned travel or other challenges.

However, the fact that millions of votes are being cast by people who are ineligible to decide who should lead our nation is a far more serious problem than making it so people need to prioritize voting on a federal holiday.

This corrupting of our nation’s election process goes far beyond the localized cheating by voting grave stones that have plagued elections.

It goes to the heart of the legitimacy of our entire elective system of government.  If, as this study suggests, out of 20 million voting-age non-citizens estimated by the U.S. Census Bureau, 6.4 percent were illegal, fully 1.3 million votes were cast illegally in 2008, and hundreds of down ballot elections could have been changed.

Our national system depends upon the underlying belief of the governed that win or lose, the elections were conducted in a fair and square way.  This revelation that the ballot boxes have been flooded by those who are not citizens tears at the heart of this notion, and rips away the very legitimacy that a representative democracy depends upon.

It’s time to restore the integrity of our elections.  It is time to get rid of all but foreign service as an excuse to not show up at the polls in person on election day, and it is time to take our national elections seriously by giving the people a paid off day from work to encourage turnout.

The author is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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