Voter turnout phenomenal, could be even better

The voter turnout for the presidential election broke expectations across the board. In Ohio, a judge ruled paper ballots had to be passed out to voters who had waited in line for hours in order to ensure their right to vote. Nationwide, voters came out in droves to either vote for or against the incumbent.

According to NBC, over half of Florida voters were contacted personally by political parties and non-profit groups in order to “get out the vote.” In the USF area, representatives of either campaign visited students, sometimes several times a day.

Such attention apparently paid off. Young and first-time voters made up about 17 percent of the electorate and largely went to Sen. John Kerry.

What all these numbers prove is that the American people, despite being partially disillusioned by the 2000 election, still believes their votes count. Rather than staying home mumbling, “My vote won’t matter anyway,” people, particularly young voters, took action, sometimes spending hours waiting in line in order to cast their vote. Such dedication to the democratic spirit, especially from a group that had been characterized as “apathetic” before, is a welcome change.

For the rest of the population, though, voting would have been easier were Election Day declared a federal holiday. Minorities in particular often cannot afford to take a day — or even a few hours — off from work, as they depend on every hour of pay they can get to support themselves and/or their families.

For such Americans it would be of great benefit to declare the day a national holiday to ensure all voters, no matter their income, can afford to devote time to their civic duty.