Q&A of the day – Should Election Day be a national holiday?
It’s the Q&A of the day. Each day I’ll feature a listener question that’s been submitted by one of these methods.
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Today’s note comes from Derek:
Do you agree with Mitch McConnell’s argument that creating an election holiday is actually a Democrat power grab?
Bottom Line: Alright, to set this up before I weigh in, Democrats have proposed a bill in the US House that would make Election Day a federal holiday but would also allow non-essential federal employees to take paid leave for working at polling places during an election for up to six days. I’ll start with the paid leave in this bill. Independent of political considerations that strikes me as absurd. Should we as taxpayers, be paying federal employees with unrelated jobs, for six days to work on elections?
If the federal employees are so unessential that they can just leave their jobs for six days to do something else should we really be paying taxes for those positions in the first place? I’d entertain that conversation before supporting this initiative and that’s also likely where Mitch McConnell is deriving much of his perspective. Introducing Election Day as a federal holiday is one thing. Paying federal workers to work them for several days is another.
When attempting to derive the potential motivations of federal employees for working in an undefined way for election purposes – there's one stat that’s probably the most useful. It’s impossible to know the exact political bend of federal workers. Many states don’t have partisan voter registration mandates like Florida does and even then, that’s not necessarily a clear indication of one’s political mindset. I was able to pull Federal Election Commission records from the 2016 election cycle that might provide a better idea. Of federal employees who made personal political donations in 2016, 95% of the money was donated to Democrats. So, while cynical in his approach, McConnell’s notion is probably closer to reality than not. As for the idea of Election Day being a national holiday, here are my thoughts...
My biggest concern is that we conduct fair and honest elections. The more time and the more variables that are introduced into the process, the greater the opportunity for impropriety. Early voting and the proliferation of absentee ballots for non-disabled voters and non-service members adds to the potential for fraud exponentially. I’d be on board with Election Day as a federal holiday if we also eliminated early voting nationally and restricted absentee votes to only those with disabilities or serving the country.