It is far too difficult to for Americans to exercise their right to vote. It doesn’t make any sense for our voting day to be in the middle of the week, when everyone still has to work. That by itself presents a challenge for many Americans, who don’t have time to stand in line before work to be able to vote. On top of Republican efforts to pass voter suppression laws and restrictive voter ID legislation, it’s getting harder and harder for Americans to express themselves politically.
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the presidential candidate who has been drawing mega crowds- 70,000 over three days- aims to change that. He has introduced a bill in Congress to make Election Day a national holiday, giving Americans from all walks of life time to go to the polls and cast their ballots. He has also introduced a bill which would automatically register 18-year-olds to vote unless they specifically request not to, and a bill to return financing of presidential campaigns to public funds.
These are common-sense pieces of legislation that would enormously improve the health of our democracy and politically empower a great number of Americans whose rights are restricted by bureaucracy and red-tape. Of course, it will be fiercely opposed by Republicans, who have been working hard to restrict voting rights from youths and minorities, both demographics that tend to vote heavily Democrats.
The practices proposed by Senator Sanders are commonplace in democracies across the world, and are a key factor in ensuring public participation and an honest vote. Just 36.4% of Americans voted in the last election, in which the Republicans swept both Houses of Congress and have accomplished nothing since then. It is far beyond time we restored the integrity of our democracy and ensured that EVERY American is able to fulfill their rights.
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.