Voter turnout hasn’t surpassed 80% since 1888 when Grover Cleveland lost to Benjamin Harrison. The reasons for this are many: Voter registration isn’t automatic, many Americans are apathetic about political theater, and, of course, Election Day takes place on a run-of-the-mill Tuesday in November.
As the 2016 election ramps up, President Obama—whose 2008 election brought out a record setting 57.1% of eligible voters—expressed support for Election Day as a national holiday in an interview with Rutgers University’s The Daily Targum:
We are the only advanced democracy that makes it deliberately difficult for people to vote. And some of it has to do with the nature of our history and our Constitution, where we allow individual states to determine their own processes for structuring elections within certain boundaries.
The single most dramatic political change that could occur in this country—and the best way for us to relieve the frustrations that people feel around the political process—would be if we had greater participation that was more reflective of the day-to-day concerns that people have.