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Record GOP Turnout, On Saturdays

Monday, March 26th, 2012

Two of the most hotly-contested primary states this year, South Carolina and Louisiana, produced their highest-ever voter turnout for a Republican presidential primary election while voting on Saturdays. Newt Gingrich won the South Carolina primary with the majority of the record-setting 21% of GOP primary voters who showed up on a Saturday in January. And over the weekend Rick Santorum took home the W in Louisiana when a record-breaking 917,046 people showed up to vote, according to this tweet from Trip Gabriel at the New York Times.

All of this points to what Cook County, Illinois Clerk wrote on The Huffington Post last week, that the time for weekend voting, and for congress to pass The Weekend Voting Act, has come.

Voting on a Tuesday, a holdover from agricultural society, is an anachronism that keeps working people from the polls. Frankly, American voters need the weekend option more, not less, than workers elsewhere. Study after study shows that Americans work longer hours, with fewer vacations than Europeans, Canadians — even the Japanese.

He continued:

The naysayers are already complaining about the cost, but they are wrong. As the election authority for Cook County, the nation’s third largest jurisdiction, I know we can manage weekend voting and I am eager to explore the benefits. Instead of only relying on retired and unemployed poll workers, we can also recruit professionals and a new generation of civic-minded citizens who value voting as a patriotic duty and are eager to help.

Of course, there’s no silver bullet to increasing America’s terrible voter turnout, and some presidential contests this year didn’t see record turnout on the weekend. To be sure, a turnout rate of 21% in South Carolina and just over 10% in Louisiana isn’t anything to honor with an award. But weekend voting will help bring America’s dismal voter turnout, which ranks behind most other countries in the world, out of the gutter — especially in the 15 states that vote only on Tuesdays.

This year I’ve crisscrossed the country with the help of Participant Media’s TakePart.com to find out what the GOP presidential candidates think about moving Election Day to the weekend. Newt Gingrich told me he doesn’t support the idea. Mitt Romney doesn’t support it either, according to an interview with a local Michigan reporter. Rick Santorum, on the other hand, was open to the idea saying there’s nothing “magical” about Tuesdays.

Here’s Santorum:

And Newt:

And Mitt:

Lest we forget, four years ago, Barack Obama told me he’s open to the idea of weekend voting, too:

You can support the Weekend Voting Act by signing our petition to the President and Congress now.

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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

The Answer

In 1845, before Florida, California, and Texas were states or slavery had been abolished, Congress needed to pick a time for Americans to vote... More

Recent Comments

Patrick, France is a post-Christian secular country. Relatively few of them attend church, and voting on Sunday does not interfere with their religious practices, because most of the population is not religious...

Posted by John on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

In France they last voted on a Sunday. France is despite the Bourbon legacy a largely Catholic country, yet they vote on Sunday...

Posted by Patrick on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

I think weekend voting would make the most sense, as people wouldn't have tu run home after work or wake up early to hit the polling stations beforehand.

Posted by Zander on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?