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Obama, Biden On Weekend Voting

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Saturday, August 23rd, 2008

Today Sen. Barack Obama selected Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate for the presidency. I interviewed both for our Candidate Challenge last October. Obama told me he supported the idea of weekend voting to increase voter participation, but Biden said he wouldn’t necessarily support it.

Our ask was for candidates to discuss their plans for increasing voter participation, since the USA ranks near the bottom of all countries.

Obama: “I think we have to make it easier to vote. And I’m assuming that Why Tuesday? is in favor of, for example, of having it on weekends, so that more people can vote.”

Biden: “My view is I don’t see any strong evidence that having Election Day on a weekend is going to increase turnout relative to Tuesday… if I saw any data to suggest that it would create a larger turnout, then I would support that, whatever it took.”

A note: while Senator Biden is right and there is no silver bullet for increasing voter participation, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance published, on page 116 of “Voter Turnout Since 1945: A Global Report” (2002) that “a study in 2000 suggested that weekend voting increases turnout rates far above statistical relevance.” We’re working to track down that study, and will continue to monitor the candidates’ positions on the state of the voting system and election reform in the general election, so stay tuned.

Why do we vote on Tuesday anyways? Click here for the answer.

2 Responses to “Obama, Biden On Weekend Voting”

  1. AllAboutVoting Says:

    I basically agree with Biden’s position on weekend voting and on making election day a federal holiday. I think that these reforms could be promising but I also think that a change should be made on the basis of evidence. Many states have tried various approaches and I have yet to see much evidence suggesting that either reform makes a significant difference. I *hope* that they do but I would like to see the evidence!

    I’m not sure what Biden’s full position is regarding federal standards for election integrity in federal voting but I would NOT want to see a federal mandate (or a federal funding for [HAVA-style]) requiring the use of electronic voting – even if there is a paper trail.

  2. Shad Says:

    I think the gist of Biden’s position is that we need a consistent standard across the board for federal elections and to that I say a hearty “Amen!” Naturally the devil’s in the details, but leaving the details of voting in federal elections to local officials is one of the craziest features of our system.

    I would be interested in knowing about Biden’s assertion about weekend voting hurting turnout. Does anyone else know anything about this?

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Why Tuesday? is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections... More

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