Should Election Day be a Holiday?


On January 4, 2019, Rep. John Sarbanes of Maryland introduced HR 1, the “For the People Act,” the first piece of new legislation to be considered by the 116th Congress. It’s a sweeping voter reform package that, if passed, would have huge impact on elections in the U.S. (and, by extension, the work of Vote Captains nationwide!). Here’s what it would do:

  • Require states to provide automatic or online voter registration, same day registration, and at least two weeks of early voting prior to each election. The legislation also requires that use of paper ballots or receipts to prevent computer security issues from compromising the results.

  • Limit the ability of state governments to disenfranchise people using sneaky tactics.  (Keep in mind that HR 1 applies to federal elections only, so it’s worth asking your state government to consider a similar package. That said, passing this at the federal level will make it easier for states to use this package of rules at every election level.)

  • Make Election Day a federal holiday so everybody is available to vote.

  • Create an independent commission to oversee the drawing of congressional districts.

  • Tighten campaign financing laws and make congressional candidates who agreed to raise funds through small dollar donations eligible for matching funds. 

  • Require presidential and vice-presidential candidates to release their tax returns. (Often presidential scandals serve as the backdrop to this kind of voter reform package. The last time this type of comprehensive election legislation was introduced was in the 1970’s, around the time that Richard Nixon was impeached.)

And that’s not all! The act is over 500 pages long, but the entire text is available HERE if you want to read it for yourself.



These reforms would have a huge impact on elections, making them more accessible, less corrupt, and ultimately making our democracy more representative. Please join us in supporting more accessible elections by calling your congressmember and letting them know you support HR 1, the For The People Act. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) is hoping to introduce the Senate version soon, at which point we’ll update this post.