GOOD

Puerto Rico Does it Right: Imagine an Election Day Like This



Imagine if Election Day were a national holiday. Not just a national holiday but a national celebration. Freed for the day from work and school, people use the time to both party and do their civic duty. They attend festivals, fairs, food markets, and parades. They form their own parades, caravans of cars that head for the polls, expressing support for a candidate or simply celebrating democracy.

Far-fetched? Pie-in-the-sky? In fact, the above describes Election Day in Puerto Rico. The day of festivity is part of a culture of voting that has produced high turnout. Citizens in Puerto Rico see voting as a duty, but not a solemn one.

"It's like a big holiday," says Luis Raul Camara, a Puerto Rican-born political scientist. "Voting is just the culmination of that, just like the 25th is the culmination of Christmas. There's a lot of social incentive to vote."

The numbers tell the story:

Throughout the late 20th century, turnout for Puerto Rico's quadrennial elections was 50 percent higher than it was for presidential contests in the United States...Between 1972 and 2000...Puerto Rico averaged 79 percent turnout in its quadrennial elections; only eleven U.S. states clear 60 percent during that time, while 14 were below 50 percent.

\n

Puerto Rico is small, you say. But it's not as if the United States has trouble pulling off nationwide civic celebrations: consider the Fourth of July.

Puerto Rico is not alone. Election Day in many Latin American countries is festive, and one of the reasons that Western European countries—France, Germany, Italy—have high turnout rates is that they hold elections on Sunday. “There are other places that celebrate voting in ways that we don’t,” says James M. Glaser, a Tufts political scientist who has conducted experiments showing that organizing fairs near polling stations can boost turnout. “There are Latin-American countries where Election Day is much more celebratory. And there is reason to celebrate if you’re living in a healthy democracy."

The question, though, is whether we're living in a "healthy democracy." Our pathetic voter turnout rates suggest otherwise. By making election day a national celebration, we could bring more people to the polls and help restore our democracy.

Fifth in a series. One/Two/Three/Four.

This post is part of the Take Back Tuesday campaign to make Voting Day a national holiday. Sign up or encourage your company to join in at takebacktuesday.good.is.

Illustration by Tyler Hoehne
Articles
via The Howard Stern Show / YouTube

Former Secretary of State, first lady, and winner of the popular vote in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton, sat own for an epic, two-and-a--half hour interview with Howard Stern on his SiriusXM show Wednesday.

She was there to promote "The Book of Gutsy Women," a book about heroic women co-written with her daughter, Chelsea Clinton.

In the far-reaching conversation, Clinton and the self-proclaimed "King of All Media" and, without a doubt, the best interviewer in America discussed everything from Donald Trump's inauguration to her sexuality.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics
Pixabay

Offering parental leave for new fathers could help close the gender gap, removing the unfair "motherhood penalty" women receive for taking time off after giving birth. However, a new study finds that parental leave also has a pay gap. Men are less likely to take time off, however, when they do, they're more likely to get paid for it.

A survey of 2,966 men and women conducted by New America found that men are more likely to receive paid parental leave. Over half (52%) of fathers had fully paid parental leave, and 14% of fathers had partially paid parental leave. In comparison, 33% of mothers had fully paid parental leave and 19% had partially paid parental leave.

Keep Reading Show less

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet