Recognize Election Day as a federal holiday.
Pass legislation that establishes Election Day as a "major" holiday, to be grouped with holidays that celebrate the foundations of this country, including Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Labor Day.
Educate the general public about the issues, current and proposed legislation, and Election Day procedure.
Encourage private businesses to close for the day in order to allow their employees to vote.
Combat low voter turnout through education and greater opportunity.
Response to Petition
By Tonya Robinson
Thank you for signing the petition, entitled "propose legislation that would make all federal election days national holidays to increase voter turnout," on the We the People platform on WhiteHouse.gov.
We agree that increasing civic participation through voting is good for our democracy.
As you may know, because federal law mandates that elections be held every two years on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, the President does not have the power on his own to change the day of our federal elections or make Election Day a federal holiday. Such a change requires an act of the U.S. Congress, but is worth studying, given our shared goal of enabling more Americans to participate in our democracy by voting.
As with the creation of any new national holiday, the economic impact must be considered -- particularly when our country is recovering from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Given the priority placed on legislative proposals to fuel job creation and other economic measures, the Administration at this time does not plan to propose legislation that would create a new national holiday, but welcomes the continued conversation regarding enhanced civic engagement. Moreover, while federal law determines the date for Election Day, states also play an important role in the administration of federal elections.
Many states already have taken steps that make it easier for voters who have to work on Election Day to cast their ballots. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), 32 states allow early in-person voting at designated locations before Election Day. Many states also allow any eligible voter to cast an absentee ballot either in person or by mail. And two states -- Oregon and Washington -- conduct all of their elections by mail. At the same time, we are concerned about steps taken in other states that make voter registration and voting more difficult.
You can learn more about early voting, absentee ballots, and voting by mail at the NCSL website.
Thank you again for your input on this important issue. The Obama Administration agrees that it is imperative to ensure that all eligible Americans have the ability to exercise their right to vote and shares your commitment to making sure that every American has the opportunity to make their voice heard.
Tonya Robinson is Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy