Staff editorial: Just another day for feds to be off
Election day is almost upon us and in some some states that will mean a day off work for state and municipal employees.
That's because in various states around the nation, the day that the general elections take place is a state holiday. Schools are closed, county and state offices are shut down and only the election people are working.
But state holidays do not bleed over into the federal realm. Federal offices in those states still remain open.
John Conyers, a Democratic house of representatives member from Michigan must think that isn't very fair. In 2005 he proposed a bill in which Election Day (general that is) would become a federal holiday. That way federal employees could be off too.
Now while that bill did not come up for a vote, proponents say they will reintroduce it next year, because at the time it was introduced it languished in committee.
Just what we need; another day when those that we pay to run our national goverment, take another day off. They already get so many holidays, compared to private business, it's ridiculous.
Certainly some holidays I can see. Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, well okay. But election day? That ranks right up there with Columbus Day in terms of importance to be off work. Of all days federal employees should be on the job is the day when the rest of us are deciding who their bosses should be.
Conyer's explanation for why he thinks election day should be a holiday (it would be called Democracy Day) holds very little water in my pitcher. He, along with the other sponsors of the bill, say people being off on Election Day would increase voter turnout.
If I ever heard a reason more full of dog dung, I don't know when it was.
When people are given holidays they go and do fun stuff. Example? Look at two of our main holidays, Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Years ago Memorial Day was to honor the dead. Most people use that first summer holdiay to go on a trip, or camping, or to an amusement park. Instead of going to the cemetery they cook hot dogs in their backyards or go to a baseball game. Sure many people do go to cemeteries, but by far the bulk of people don't support that holiday for what it is meant.
Labor Day is even ignored more. Formed originally to honor workers and have unions do big rallies, it is now billed as the last big holiday of summer. Consequently people do nearly the same things they do on Memorial Day but with even more relish (okay the hot dogs go along with this too).
So making Election Day another federal holiday just means another day to play. The only thing about it is it is not on a Monday, so three day weekends would not be possible.
Election Day is where it is on the calendar because by federal law the presidential election has to be held in a 34 day time period before the first Wednesday in December. It was set that way because the Electoral College meets that day and heaven knows the government needs all that time to count the ballots, hanging chads and to ferret out election undesirables. The Tuesday following the first Monday in November was chosen as the day for general elections years later. Why? I don't know and so far I haven't been able to find out.
However, knowing Congress, and the way they think, if such a bill was passed, in a few years they would do with that holiday what they did with Lincoln's birthday and Washington's birthday and make it fall on the first Monday in November, so everyone could have a three day weekend.
As we all know everyone stays at home on a three day weekend and that would really increase the voter turnout.
With early voting now available in so many places, why would we need to give people a day off to vote? It's not like we have to take a burro ride out of the mountains down to a polling place 30 miles away to do it.
And with all due respect to government employees, they don't do most of the voting in this country. Most of it is done by people employed by private industry, which often ignores a lot of federal holidays by requiring their employees to work that day. That is especially true in the retail business where holidays are the big days for sales (particularly to all those government employees who are off work).
Let's not let Congress create another holiday for a phony reason; one that benefits no one but costs us all a lot of money.