The Boston City Council is pondering turning Election Day into a holiday in the city.

Councilor Matt O’Malley requested a hearing about the possible change saying having the day be a holiday will help increase voter turnout.

“Voting during a work day limits the participation of those who can’t afford to take a day off of work,” O’Malley said. “This is not a pie in the sky idea. We can absolutely change this.”

O’Malley wants the city to create a paid holiday for its workers or suggests they could remove an existing holiday like Columbus Day to accommodate the new Election Day holiday. He also mentioned that only 25 percent of Boston residents vote in municipal elections. According to O’Malley, other developed nations in the world have a higher voter turnout because they either vote on a weekend or have the day off.

“Robust voting participation is one of most important parts of a healthy and functioning democracy,” he said.

O’Malley pointed out that Boston has a history of creating special holidays in the city like Bunker Hill Day and Evacuation Day.

“I can think of no better way to honor the founding of our country than celebrate our right to vote,” he said.

Councilor Josh Zakim agreed with his colleague and believes voting on a Tuesday is “arbitrary.”

“The Commonwealth and the city of Boston could do much better in making it easier to vote,” he said.

Councilor Lydia Edwards believes Boston can lead the Commonwealth when it comes to voter turnout.

“This is a ripple effect,” she said. “When Boston leads this way it helps the entire Commonwealth to get excited about voting.”

The council has considered various options to increase voter turnout like early voting in municipal elections and letting non-citizens vote.

O’Malley said while Boston only has jurisdiction over city and school employees, he hopes this potential change would inspire private companies to do the same.

“It would change voting culture in our city,” he said. “It would put the emphasis on the importance of voting and civic engagement.”

A hearing is set to be scheduled in the near future.


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15 COMMENTS

  1. So…more perks, ie days off for state and city workers?

    Do they really think his constituents are that dumb? Wait, let me ask my boss if he’ll observe this day as a holiday….have these people ever worked in the private sector? they have no conception of reality

  2. I feel like making it easier for people to vote is always a good thing. Not being able to vote because you are locked into a work situation is plain old voter suppression. Lots of people work weekends so this continues to lead to uneven voting results based on economic factors. ( bad!) It is vital that we look to increase voter participation, not stifle it.

    Instead of being quick to be cynical re: state employees, we should demand paid time off for all US citizens to cast ballots. Or allow same day registration. Or allow early voting.

    Voting should be mandatory, not a luxury only afforded be the privileged!

    BLM too

    • High voter turnout is kind of overrated. You don’t want everybody voting. You want citizens who put in a little effort. Who are a little informed. You don’t want people voting just to vote. Polls are open all day. If you can’t sacrifice an hour or fill out an absentee ballot then you don’t deserve to vote.

        • You sound childish. I am an elitist because I want people to put a little effort into deciding who runs our city/town/country?

          I want informed voters. If somebody can’t even put in the effort to fill out an absentee ballot then they probably won’t put in the effort to be informed on the issues.

          Maybe you have heard the old saying…”quality is better than quantity!”

          • HA! What an absurd thing to say. You must think that you are smarter than most people. Give me a break. Your opinion is what is overrated.

            US citizen? Over 18? You get a vote.

            It doesn’t matter what you want, it’s in the constitution.

            “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State (or by informed, voter suppressor wanna be, Noah Tannebaum) on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude”

            • You are making things up. Starting a make believe argument.

              Nobody is denied the right to vote. You have an entire day to vote. If your schedule is to busy plan ahead and fill out an absentee ballot.

              People who vote are considered adults they should be able to figure it out. And if they can’t figure it out well then they have bigger problems than voting.

            • Great points Noah, but I am going to take it a step further. Before I do so I’m just going to say that I know for a fact that most City and State employees and are allowed to vote during the work day while they are on the clock. I think that to be allowed to vote you should have to prove yourself competent with some some sort of test. Many people vote for candidates based merely on things such as race or gender rather. Look at some of the imbeciles we have in elected positions! People don’t need a day off from work to vote! They need to educate themselves on the candidates and make a smart decision!

              • So what are we supposed to do give every perspective voter an IQ test? In that case we should demand that the candidates seeking office be given a test as well. If that had been the case we would not have a POTUS who cannot string a sentence together or spell.

              • Sal, agree that imbeciles get elected, but people shouldn’t need to meet a criteria to vote. There were systems like this in place and imbeciles still got elected. Unfortunately, citizens have the right to vote even if they are voting their prejudices. But we don’t need a day off to vote and many millions have found the time. If Boston has an issue with voter turnout, then it has an issue with candidate quality. If you have a choice between two bums, then why vote.

    • You have the option to file an absentee ballot if you can’t be around on election day. I’ve done it, yes it takes a little more effort. People who can’t find to vote will just use the day as a day off. I’ve stood in some long lines, but always felt a few hours didn’t require a day off. This idea appeals to the lazy. I agree with the comment above. I don’t think any of these people have worked in the private sector or held a job where production mattered.

  3. There was a time in Boston when the slogan was vote early & often.Some people who were deceased even voted.With early voting,absentee ballots there isn’t any excuse for someone not to vote and establishing another “holiday” to accommodate people to vote is BS .What’s next paying people to vote?

  4. @ MichaelD couldn’t agree more. We should give our candidates and voters an IQ test. Our president is one of the most successful business men in the county and he forumualtes beautiful sentences.

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