Why Tuesday?

Get Involved

Posts by James Carmichael

Tuesday, March 6th, 2007

Sen. John Edwards: Making Election Day a Holiday “sounds like a good idea”

Senator John Edwards, now running hard for the Democratic presidential nomination, visited UCLA today for a rally in Bruin Plaza. The Road Team’s own Jacob Soboroff had a chance to catch up with him afterwards on the Kerckhoff (sic) Patio. Jacob shouldered his way to the front of the press pool in time to be the second-to-last question Edwards answered; the presidential hopeful didn’t have a chance to really dive into the topic beyond a general affirmation of making Election Day a holiday, but with a little luck this won’t be the last time we get the opportunity to put some questions to him.

Regarding the soundtrack to this particular clip: please refer all questions to Jacob. We try to control him, but it’s very difficult.

America is going to be looking hard at a handful of politicians over the next year or so (unless some calendar-happy state moves its primaries up even further). We’re going to do our best- beginning humbly with this clip- to make sure that election reform is a part of the conversation the nation has with these candidates. An Executive Branch with a real commitment to election reform could set the tone for change, and a major campaign that addresses this issue might remind people to pay attention to something we tend to talk about AFTER elections rather than before them.

Please join us. If a candidate is coming to your town or school- pop the question, and ask them their thoughts on election reform. We all might be surprised by some of the answers we get.

Monday, November 20th, 2006

2006 Turnout: Numbers are low. EDR of questionable impact in Montana. On we go.

The dust is settling, and all speculation is about the impact of this year’s election on national and foreign policy. If you’re reading this blog you’ve probably read a lot about this year’s elections already: about your own local or state contests and the national issues that galvanized the voter base.

Without being unduly negative, it seems like a good idea to attach some numbers to the adjectival discussion of this momentous midterm. The most straightforward one is this: according to the non-partisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE), national turnout was around 83 million this year, or 40.4% of the population. There are some interesting details: despite strong/record turnout in states like Virginia and Tennessee, not all states with hot races saw turnout bumps- Maryland, Minnesota, and Florida all reported drop-offs, despite each having competitive races. Click here to read the full report.

It’s also interesting to see what effect Montana’s experiment with EDR had. Despite causing some delays, it seems to have run very smoothly. Did it increase turnout? A look at the CSAE’s numbers casts some doubt. Montana’s turnout in 2002 (the last mid-term election) was 48.02%, compared to 55.58% in this year’s election. That’s a healthy jump of 7.56%, compared to a 0.7% increase nationally. BUT, if we compare Montana to seven other states with races that were either tight or widely publicized (Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia), we see that they on average enjoyed a 6.55% increase in participation. Amongst that pack, then, it’s not clear that EDR had a dramatic effect.

Which isn’t to say that it’s not a good idea: even a small impact is good, so long as the integrity of the process isn’t compromised, as is any measure that makes voting more convenient for those who fulfill their civic responsibility.

What seems most important to us is to remember- amidst all the comparative values- that the numbers we’re dealing with are still very low. A look at the CSAE’s report shows that, even in states celebrating record turnout, we’re dealing with participation in the low 40- and 50-percent range. Even if one takes the higher numbers offered by political campaigns and various state offices you’re still in the same ballpark.

Bottom line: there’s still work to do. And there’s a big election in a couple of years. So we’re gonna keep on asking why, and trying to figure out how to get as many citizens into the voting booths as possible.

Friday, November 10th, 2006

Backstage with the Road Team Once More – ABC’s Los Angeles Studios

Because they are still crazy, Barnett and Jacob once again took in their own hardware for a TV appearance. Jacob uses the chance to give the viewer a little lesson in the tissue of beautiful illusion that TV studios drape over the everyday. Enjoy.

Barnett, your diligence is appreciated.

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

Jake Schroeder: Rep. Todd R. Platts (R – PA 19th) says “Having not been around at that point to say what their exact thought process was…”

Well, the elections are over, but we’re still trucking. Jake Schroeder just sent us this clip of Congressman Todd Platts “answering students questions at York Suburban High School in his 19th Congressional District on November 3rd. Students were free to ask any question ranging from border security to social security. I was able to ask him why we vote on Tuesdays.”

In what might be the longest discussion of participation and its woes we’ve gotten so far, Congressman Platts makes several interesting points. He comes down hard in favor of absentee ballots: he thinks that they represent an important way to make sure that people who are unable to make it to the polls are allowed to exercise the franchise. He disagrees with the idea that weekend voting would help, using an argument often used against “convenience voting,” which is that certain ways of making voting more convenient denigrate the institution (“it’s an excuse”). And, lastly, he points out that a lof these questions can be solved at the State level- something we’re aware of as well, and which has got us thinking.

What are the states doing? For a breakdown of no-excuse absentee balloting and in-person absentee balloting (early voting), click here. It seems that, at the State level, reform is alive and well: 35 states allow people, without any explanation, to vote in-person or by mail over a wide variety of dates ranging from 15-31 days prior to the election; 36 if you count the fact that the majority of Washington votes by mail. How has this affected turnout? What does this mean for the remaining fifteen? To what extent do people in these states know about their options? Stay tuned for more…

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California (R): “We have to make campaigns very positive…”

Props to the Road Team for blagging their way into what looks like a real press conference. As we fall off to sleep watching CNN/Fox/what have you, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stands with his family on a verdant lawn. The Gubernator doesn’t think Election Day is the issue- he thinks a lack of excitement about politics is. A smooth and easy clip to mark the passing of another Election Tuesday…

ps If you can’t hear it, the Governor’s bon mot upon hearing Barnett’s follow-up question is, “Yes, we are moving into the weekend; joy joy!”

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D – CA) and Rep. Jane Harman (D – CA 36th): “A new look for the 21st Century…”

The (unstoppable) Road Team caught up with Senator Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Jane Harman at a rally for Phil Angelides in California. Senator Feinstein, a 14-year veteran and California’s senior Senator, wasn’t ready to come down for or against voting as a holiday. The team caught Congresswoman Harman- whose website is to be commended for its richness in substantive policy issues, by the way- at a better time, however, and she has a ton to say.

The Congresswoman mentions several touchpoints of election reform: public financing, reforming the Electoral College, making Election Day a holiday, and considering the lessons of several countries where she’s observed Sunday elections where it’s a big celebration everyone wears their finest duds. In addition to serving as a testament to the Congresswoman’s awareness of these issues, it’s interesting that once again someone has observed how interlinked many aspects of reform are. One needn’t wait for all the others, but focusing on any one area seems to make it easier to consider improving other aspects of the system.

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

Recent Comments

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?

Sunday would be inconvenient for Christians. We should, 1. Move the voting day to Saturday. 2...

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