GAO Study: Vote On The Weekend?
Sunday, January 15th, 2012
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study last week assessing costs and benefits of holding Election Day on the weekend instead of Tuesday, as is called for in the Weekend Voting Act. The study, as CBS News points out, was unfortunately but not surprisingly inconclusive:
“Since nationwide federal elections have never been held on a weekend, it is difficult to draw valid conclusions about how moving federal elections to a weekend would affect voter turnout,” the GAO report said.
The GAO report focused in large part on the logistical challenges of holding elections on weekends, identifying challenges in doing so including “finding poll workers and polling places, and securing ballots and voting equipment-and expected cost increases.”
We believe the concerns raised by the GAO report are valid but certainly shouldn’t be a reason to keep Election Day on Tuesday. For one, the cost to our democracy is far higher to have chronic low voter turnout than a modest increase in the monetary cost of administering elections.
And we’ve always pointed out that if we don’t try we’ll never know how much voter turnout will increase if we move Election Day to the weekend, which the study noted. As the GAO found out, there are so few comparable examples to look to in the United States because of how backwards our voting system is.
We also often point out that one of the best comparisons to make is with the literally scores of countries around the world that have a higher turnout rate than we do and vote on the weekend, something the study skips entirely, something our founder made clear to CBS News.
William Wachtel said the GAO should have taken into account weekend voting outcomes in other countries.
“It is a shame that they seem to have missed the point…they have turned a blind eye to the fact that 138 of 172 democracies vote more that we do in some measure because they vote on the weekends,” he said.
It’s worth noting that a CBS News nonscientific poll attached to their article had the vast majority, at 83%, of respondents answering “yes” to the question “Should Election Day be moved from Tuesday to the weekend?” You can sign our petition to endorse weekend voting here.