Why making the election a Public Holiday would lift voting numbers


I think that standing in line with your fellow citizens to vote is a necessary part of the engagement process and online voting doesn’t create that. Selfies proclaiming that people have voted will be a great means of building awareness, but it can’t replace the real social element of sharing the same physical space peacefully with people who have the opposite agenda that you do.

Apart from the ease with which online voting can be hacked, the physical space sharing social interaction is a crucial democratic engagement.

I think the reason our election should also be a public holiday is based on that shared social experience. We have so much angst in NZ over Waitangi Day as a national identity, we should look to shared celebrated experiences that bind all. The fact we are one of the few democracies that can change power minus violence and intimidation should be a source of celebration and deep pride.

I would suggest election day becomes a Wednesday and that Wednesday is considered a public holiday and we work at building election day into a celebration of our democratic process. If we want to build national identity and lift participation rates then we have to invest in that relationship and not leave it to the free market.


  1. I agree with you, the election needs to be a public holiday, and moreover, it needs to be the responsibility of the electoral commission to bring the vote to people, instead of the other way around.

    Online voting is.. problematic, I agree, but there’s also a question of accessibility. For a lot of people, electronic or online voting would be the best way they are able to get to a polling booth. ‘Shared public spaces’ are all too often inaccessible for disabled people or people in poor, rural communities. Not that Online voting is the -only- way to solve these problems, roving voting stations moving down our streets, communal lunches in the parks where people can also vote.

    Unlikely to happen, however, when we have a political and media class who condemn Hone for having a by-election costing all of $500,000

  2. the physical space sharing social interaction is a crucial democratic engagement.

    What “physical space sharing social interaction” are you talking about?

  3. More people voting Labour would be out and National would not like that so it’s not likely to happen while they are in Government.

  4. I FULLY support this idea, to make voting day a public holiday. It should be considered as the “nation building day”, kind of, as voting for a new government is like laying the foundation for the next few years of economic, social and other planning.

    Parties voted in will form the government, and this is something so damned important, it must be acknowledged, and after casting their votes, the public should spend a day in reflection, in perhaps social gatherings, in silent or less silent endeavours, perhaps also party and celebrate their commitment to political parties and movements they supported.

    It will be rounded off perfectly with the late night election result announcement, and the winning forces can celebrate for the rest of the night, enjoying themselves, others will reflect on their future and alternatives down the road.

    And as election days are usually Saturdays, we should give people the day off work (except needed emergency services and some well extra paid selected few in hospitality, transport and so), and those that celebrate will enjoy the Sunday to sleep in and recover, and it will all be so well.

    I dream one day a new government has the courage to give us all an extra day off, to deliver our civic duty of voting!

  5. Wouldn’t people just end up going to the beach or something? I can see this backfiring.

    Wouldn’t it just be easier to have early voting like they do in the States? Polls open for a week rather than a day?

    • We already have early voting .. it’s called special voting. No big whoop and there are booths all around the place for about 2 weeks before the election. I think they disappear a few days before election day proper though.

  6. Elections have been held on Saturdays because Saturday, before the neo-liberals took control in the 1980s, was a family day. A day of rest, sport and relaxation when most people did not have to work therefore they had time to vote – that was the theory at least. Now Saturday is basically just another working day so having it on Saturdays doesn’t make so much sense now.
    Let’s analyse the days. Can’t have it on Monday because of Mondayitis which might lower the turnout. Can’t have it on Thursday because it is pay day and people will be too busy spending their money at the pub or the TAB to waste time voting. Can’t have it on Friday because it is the Muslim holy day. Can’t have it on Sunday because it is the Christian holy day. Can’t have it on Wednesday because of midweek golf or bowls tournaments. That leaves Tuesday. No, hang on it is sports practice or gym day. My conclusion is that there is no good day for an election, so we might as well cancel it and just say that National has already won it, they certainly think so anyway. We could save a bundle and could afford more tax cuts for the rich.
    ps. I am being entirely satirical here, if you hadn’t noticed.

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