Let’s Continue To Pressure President Obama to Declare Election Day 2016 a Federal Holiday

A coalition of progressives has launched last November a national campaign to urge President Obama to issue an executive order making November 2016’s election day a federal holiday— giving millions of people more time to get out and vote in the presidential election.

The organizers say that is part of an effort to “empower the electorate to know and exert their rights — and to keep showing up at the polls. Instituting a day off for Election Day is a powerful way to highlight the importance of voting and the need for a more reflective democracy.”

Let’s Continue To Pressure President Obama to Declare Election Day 2016 a Federal Holiday

Their impetus has been the wave of anti-voter measures passed in many states, almost always by Republican-controlled legislatures, to more aggressively police the voting process — a tactic that progressive voting rights advocates have long said are designed to discourage likely Democratic constituencies from voting, especially communities of color, the poor, and college and university students.

As the coalition member, Brave New Films, has created a short video highlighting the issue and petition-gathering campaign. Other partners include: Center for Popular Democracy, Common Cause, Courage Campaign, Crooks & Liars, Daily Kos, Democracy for America, Democracy Matters, Left Action, People For the American Way, The Nation, The Other 98%, US Uncut and Why Tuesday.


“Having a one-time voting holiday would be a huge step towards making voting more convenient and staying true to the values of democracy where everyone participates,” said Regina Clemente, Director of Campaigns at Brave New Films. “This is not a silver bullet that will fix all obstacles within our voting system, but it sends the message that Americans aren’t going to sit idly by while politicians make it more difficult for people to vote. We are going to fight for the democracy we deserve.”

The one-time holiday will give all federal workers a day off and encourage states and businesses to follow, the organizers said. Presidents have the authority to declare a one-time federal holiday and have occasionally done so, such as honoring a former president’s passing. Still, the U.S. is unlike many western countries that treat their nationwide election day as a holiday, encouraging turnout.