General Election Day is one of eleven official holidays recognized by the State of Michigan. Some of the eleven holidays are recognized with the closing of schools and businesses, but Election Day is not one of them. Should it be?

Michigan's official holidays are:

  • New Year's Day, January 1.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Third Monday in January.
  • President's Day, Third Monday in February.
  • Memorial Day, Last Monday in May.
  • Independence Day, July 4.
  • Labor Day, First Monday in September.
  • General Election Day, even numbered years
  • Veterans Day, November 11.
  • Thanksgiving Day and the day after, the fourth Thursday and Friday in November.
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, December 24 and 25.
  • New Year's Eve, December 31.

Maybe of couple of surprises here. Did you know the day after Thanksgiving Day is considered a holiday? What does it even mean to be a state holiday? That varies, as you can see from the list. Some closings are enforced by the Michigan Department of Civil Service and a law created in 1865.

Maybe it's time for an update?

The idea of making Election Day a federal holiday is something we've heard more of in recent years. A "Democracy Day" bill has been introduced. An argument for the bill says, "Election Day should be a national holiday so that everyone has the time and opportunity to vote. While this would not be a cure-all, it would indicate a national commitment to create a more vibrant democracy."

But would it even make a difference?

For some, schools closing would make it harder to get to the polls. Also, many private businesses remain open on major holidays. Consider the increase in Black Friday sales starting on Thanksgiving Day. It's hard to say how much of an impact a federal Election Day holiday would have on the private sector when so many other federal holidays already have such little impact.

Voter turnout is always depressingly low. Many people simply don't care and giving them more options won't get them to the polls. That might never change, but ease of voting continues to increase across the country. More early voting and absentee voting options are becoming available. Some businesses give their employees the day off or at least encourage employees to take part of their workday to go and vote. Those who want to vote are slowly gaining more opportunities to get the polls, while some schools are turning Election Day into an extended fall break.

Is it enough?