Celebrate Election Day to make voting cool again

A unique approach to increase voter turnout

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Celebrate Election Day to make voting cool again

Alvin Buyinza/Collegian

Alvin Buyinza/Collegian

Alvin Buyinza/Collegian

Alvin Buyinza/Collegian

By Brendan Lally, Collegian Columnist

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Leading up to this year’s midterm elections, it was nearly impossible to go on your phone and not see the words, “Go Vote.” All across social media, celebrities and athletes preached that our civic duty must be fulfilled. Uber even offered free rides for those heading to the polls. But the fact of the matter is, on average, only about 40 percent of eligible voters usually vote in midterm elections. So, you’d think with all the fuss about going out and voting this year, there would have been a historic turnout, right? Unfortunately, only around 47 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots this past Tuesday. And that percentage was actually considered a “whopping figure.” At this point, it’s clear that Election Day needs to be a national holiday.

Everyone knows that holidays are special days of the year. No matter what religion you practice or what country you’re from, holidays are something to look forward to. As Americans, we get excited about all sorts of things, like Halloween costumes, turkeys and a guy in a red suit carrying a bag of gifts. Granted, these celebrations are usually lighthearted, but some holidays have more serious sides. For example, Christmas and Easter are commonly celebrated with loads of fun activities, but both holidays carry serious religious undertones. Both of these days are living proof that it’s possible to take something seriously and still celebrate it in a fun manner.

On the Fourth of July, everyone gets decked-out in our nation’s colors and celebrates accordingly. Imagine a world where Election Day was comparable to Independence Day. You’d have barbecues, drinks and, most importantly, the day off. Instead of finding a chunk of time throughout your day to hit the polls, everyone would get it out of the way first thing in the morning. Following voting, people would gather and celebrate the fact that we’re lucky enough to vote. It really is a big deal that we get to have a say in choosing our own leaders. Many countries still don’t have that luxury.

If Election Day became a celebrated holiday, it would be something to look forward to instead of another thing to cross off your daily agenda. Giving a present on Christmas is just something that most people who celebrate Christmas do. Similarly, casting a ballot on Election Day would be something that every American does. Forty seven percent of the population is not going to represent everyone fairly, so why not actually vote what’s on your mind and have a day while doing it? Plus, why wouldn’t we want another excuse to wear red, white and blue and go to a party? Someone needs to step up and make voting cool again.

Wait, voting was never cool? That’s part of the problem! If voting was celebrated instead of encouraged, everyone partying would feel obligated to actually partake in the true meaning of Election Day. This goes for all holidays – we have a conscious drive to celebrate them. On Valentine’s Day, you find a valentine. There’s nobody on social media saying, “Go find a Valentine!”  So, just saying “Go Vote” obviously doesn’t cut it. In fact, this year, the message seemed to get watered down as the days grew closer to the election. I felt like every single day all I could see was propaganda asking me to vote. The incessant messages simply became flat out annoying. I understand that a lot of people dislike our president, and one of the only reasons he was elected was due to low voter turnout, but enough is enough. All of the sudden, everyone is flexing the fact that they’ve done their civic duty.

It seems like the hatred people have for our president is the leading factor in bringing them to the polls. How messed up is that? We should be voting for the people we like, not voting against the people we don’t. Nowadays, people face so much hate for believing what they believe. You can’t call yourself a Trump supporter on this campus without someone thinking you’re ignorant. You also can’t tell a hard-core conservative you’re a liberal or else they’ll call you soft.

In a perfect world, liberals and conservatives would end Election Day together by kicking back by the fire and crushing whatever is left in the cooler. After a long day of burgers, dogs and ribs on the grill, everyone would put their political beliefs aside and celebrate the fact that we live in a great country. That’s the one thing that unites us all in the end, and too often, people forget that.

Brendan Lally is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]