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Even without a barbeque, election day might make a good holiday

November 06, 2012|By Karin Klein
  • A long line to vote forms Tuesday morning in the main Boston public library.
A long line to vote forms Tuesday morning in the main Boston public library. (Matt Campbell / EPA )

The good news is that so many Americans were eager to cast their votes Tuesday. The bad news is that so many Americans were eager to cast their votes Tuesday.

As my colleague Carla Hall pointed out in her first-person editorial Tuesday, not all voters are fans of mailing in their ballots or taking advantage of remote kiosks. During the earliest, pre-work hour, the line at my local polling place was out into the street. (Admittedly, the neighbor's garage wasn't all that far from the roadway, and in any case, it's lucky for us that someone in the community still uses her garage to park cars instead of as storage or even living space.) Some friends report hours-long waits at the polls.

These, of course, are the people who have time to wait a couple of hours, as disruptive as that surely was. But in an era of ages-long commutes and extended work hours, it's not something that all Americans can do.

INTERACTIVE: U.S. election results

Which brings back the question of whether the United States should consider making election day a national holiday -- or moving it to the weekend. The latter, of course, could inconvenience some groups of people, but far fewer than the current system does. Adding a national holiday is a costly matter for businesses, and early November doesn't provide the best weather for flipping hamburgers for a backyard celebration. But we could conceivably, and fittingly, move Presidents Day to the day when people make their selection for president.

Of course, voting by mail is always a possibility, and in the future, most people might cast ballots via smartphone. We might just be at that awkward stage where the technology hasn't fully caught up to our hectic daily lives.

What do you think is the best way to go about it? Holiday, weekend or keep the current system? Or should we just let go of the romance of the voting booth and take it all online?

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