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Posts by Ambassador Andrew Young

Monday, January 21st, 2013

150 Years Later, Time To “FIX IT”

As we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge on March 7th, 1965, we knew that the road ahead was long and dangerous, as change never comes easy. But march on we did, knowing deep in our hearts that one day the murders of Jimmy Lee Jackson, James Reed, and Viola Liuzzo, and the bombing of churches would stir the conscience of our fellow Americans. As Martin often preached, the clarion call for justice must inevitably end the silence of good people; and only then will the promise President Lincoln made in 1863 to right the wrongs of slavery become “a promise kept.”

As foot soldiers in a non-violent crusade, there was one battleground on which we knew we could win the war of bigotry, the one place where all American citizens were equal: the voting booth. As Martin said as we marched to Montgomery, “The longest step for society is that short sweet step to the ballot box.”

Miraculously, 8 days later, President Johnson stood before a Joint Session of Congress and answered Martin’s prayers. Noting that a 100 years was already too long to wait, he vowed to enforce President Lincoln’s promise of one man one vote: “Their cause must be our cause too. Because it is not just Negroes, but really it is all of us, who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome.” It was the only time I ever saw Martin weep. (more…)

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

On Civil Rights and Weekend Voting

Ambassador Andrew Young, co-founder of Why Tuesday?, is a former U.S. Congressman and mayor of Atlanta. This op-ed originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

Ambassador Andrew YoungLast week, American voters swept in a new crop of leaders, and once again brought change to Washington, DC. What has not changed, however, is the precariously low voter participation in our nation. This year barely more than 40 percent of eligible Americans voted, while more than a third of those who voted in 2008 stayed home. Our country should follow in the footsteps of the citizens of San Francisco, who voted to remove one of the biggest causes of low voter participation: voting on Tuesdays. The history of the civil rights movement deserves as much. Let me explain.

Forty-five years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson put on his coat, took his daughters by the hand, and went to the Capitol for a historic event that was his happiest day as an American — signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. As he sat with fountain pen in hand, surrounded by an unusual group of allies, from Everett Dirksen to Martin Luther King, LBJ made a prediction: “And every family across this great entire searching land will live stronger in liberty, will live more splendid in expectation, and will be prouder to be American because of the act that you have passed that I will sign today.”

The Voting Rights Act made a huge difference in peoples’ lives, confirming everyone’s right to vote — but that did not mean that those having the right would fulfill it by going to the voting booth. Sadly, “that short step into the voting booth and the greatest step for society” as Martin would herald, has gotten longer and longer, not shorter and shorter. Since 1968, the turnout of American voters in federal elections has gone down every single time save once. And now our nation ranks 139 out of 172 countries worldwide in voter turnout and dead last among the G8. The problem certainly isn’t the lack of resources; more money is spent in American elections by far than anywhere in the world. This year alone over $4 billion dollars will be spent hoping that 40,000,000 votes will be cast. That’s $100 per vote. How can we, the nation that created and nurtured modern democratic principles, expect other countries to see us as a model when we are such laggards in voter participation? (more…)

About Us

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

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Why not just make it a federal holiday? Seriously... I work in county level government and we have election day off, extend that to the general population and then there's no issue.

Posted by l33tDad on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

I fully support the idea — expressed by two people so far — of moving general elections to Veterans Day...

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

A funny fact from a Chinese point of view. "Tuesday" in Chinese sounds like "Raise the flag easily": a subtle connotation about US democracy.

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