As Americans queue up to wait for potentially hours to vote, observers from other countries are wondering why Election Day in the U.S. isn't a holiday. In many countries, voting is mandatory, and the day a holiday to ensure people are able to vote. Although some states do require that businesses give their employees time off to vote, many do not.
In Kenya, What An African Woman Thinks is blogging the issue. The blogger writes
Iâ€™ve just realised that election day in the US is not a public holiday.
That strikes me as very odd.
In Kenya, not only is it a public holiday, but the day is timed so that people can have ample time to travel significant distances just in case they need to do so in order to cast their vote. That is why itâ€™s usually at the end of the year, after Christmas.
Frankly, it never occurred to me that election day anywhere in the world would not be a public holiday.
Doesnâ€™t that make it harder for some people to vote than others? What if youâ€™re a student and you have an exam on election day and youâ€™re in one of those states where voting only takes place on election day? Or what if youâ€™re working a twelve hour shift that day?
I mean, I know about essential services.
Australian DoctorDi also has something to say about the subject:
Tuesday 4 November. Melbourne Cup Day in Australia, Election Day in the US. Each a race that will stop the nation in which itâ€™s run. One I couldnâ€™t care less about, the other I canâ€™t wait to see declared. Many people I know are going to the races today; most others will be at some Melbourne Cup Day event or other. Itâ€™s a public holiday in Victoria. A public holiday. For a horse race. Thereâ€™s so much about what it is to be an Australian caught up in that one bureaucratic decision – to give an entire state the day off for a day at the trots – that it would take me at least this post to unpack it. But Iâ€™m sure you can read plenty into it on your own.
The blogger adds:
By tomorrow there will be a new President Elect of the United States of America. It just seems so ludicrous to me – so patently dangerous and absurd – that thinking about Obamaâ€™s chances on this final day of the race means accounting for the weather. Itâ€™s not the Melbourne Cup, for Christâ€™s sake, itâ€™s the leader the free world. I donâ€™t know what names Australians will be shouting and chanting and yelling this afternoon as the race is fought and won in a couple of minutes, but I know which one Iâ€™m saying to myself, and Iâ€™ll give you a hint: heâ€™s the favourite to win.