We’re very excited to see a group of over 40 young elected officials sign a petition of their own to Congress in support of moving Election Day to the weekend. According to Wisconsin Public Radio, the group is headed up by La Crosse County, Wisconsin Board Supervisor Andrew Londre.
The letter was delivered to House Speaker John Boehner.
My letter, co-signed by 44 other young elected officials, representing 21 states, in support of the Weekend… http://t.co/UlvwvfyiDQ
We couldn’t agree more with the great shout out to us in the New York Times today by Joe Nocera, who calls for weekend voting and four other election reforms to increase voter turnout. There has been some great Twitter reaction to his op-ed:
NYT's Joe Nocera's good election-day column about fixing the electoral system. Why is it Tuesday? Interesting reason. http://t.co/bsMzDMFjSs
Move elections to the weekend. Do you know why elections fall on a Tuesday in early November? I didn’t either. According to a group called Why Tuesday?, it goes back to the 1840s, when “farmers needed a day to get to the county seat, a day to vote, and a day to get back, without interfering with the three days of worship.” Today, of course, casting your ballot on a Tuesday is an impediment: lines in urban areas are long, people have to get to work, etc. It is especially difficult for blue-collar workers — a k a Democratic voters — who don’t have the same wiggle room as white-collar employees.
Chris Rock — yes, Chris Rock — has been quoted as saying that this is the reason Election Day remains on Tuesday. “They don’t want you to vote,” he said in 2008. “If they did, they wouldn’t have it on a Tuesday.” Even if you aren’t conspiratorially minded, you have to admit that moving elections to the weekend makes a ridiculous amount of sense.
Tuesday is yet another Election Day, a time when our nation should be celebrating our democracy, held up around the globe as an example for other nations to follow. Yet voter turnout in America is anemic, ranking near the bottom of all countries in the world. And our right to vote is in jeopardy because of restrictive voting practices throughout the United States.
In the spirit of the Civil Rights movement, Why Tuesday? has for the past eight years fought for a conversation about how to protect all Americans right to vote, and to increase voter turnout, with a simple question: why do we vote on Tuesday?
Today, as the Weekend Voting Act was reintroduced to Congress, two members of our team, Ambassador Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III, have recorded a voice message to both encourage all Americans to get out to vote, but also to think about how we can all come together as Republicans and Democrats to make our voting system work for everyone.
Here’s the full transcript of the message:
Martin Luther King III: Hello, this is Martin Luther King III. My father, Martin Luther King Jr., often said that a voteless people is a powerless people, and that the most important step that we can take is that short step to the ballot box. That’s why I’m urging you to vote this Tuesday. I know this Tuesday can be difficult with work and family obligations. But the time is always right to do that which is right. So please, exercise your right, and be sure to vote.
Ambassador Andrew Young: This is Andy Young. Do you know why Election Day is on Tuesday? So you won’t vote. WhyTuesday.org has proudly paid for this call.
We agree. Today MSNBC’s Hardball featured the idea by our co-founder Norm Ornstein (and “real smart guy” in guest host Michael Smerconish’s words) for a Voting Rights Act 2.0 – including moving Election Day to the weekend. Watch the full segment, courtesy of MSNBC, for Smerconish’s take and a response from Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU.
We’ve often talked about the need for a Voting Rights Act 2.0 — we even held an event in Washington D.C. in 2011 with influential leaders in the voting community to help come up with what that might look like. Today, our co-founder and board member Norm Ornstein put ideas on paper for The Washington Post, and he’s got the twitterverse talking.
Great ideas from Norm Ornstein for a new Voting Rights Act. Separate federal ballot, weekend election day and more http://t.co/VZmVI5BwIN
● A separate federal ballot. Congress has the clear constitutional right to manage federal elections. A separate ballot for federal races strengthens that control. Other advantages include no more confusing butterfly ballots; there would be no more than three races (president, Senate and House) on a federal ballot. No more provisional ballots or access denied if someone shows up at the wrong polling place; the vote would still count only for those federal offices.
● A new voter registration regime. The United States is the only major democracy where the burden of registering to vote is on the citizen. The default should be that eligible citizens are presumed registered, with same-day voter registration available for those not registered via their draft registration or driver’s license. Ideally, Congress would provide the funds to modernize voter registration lists and create a 21st-century voting process in which voters could get personalized ballots printed, with all the offices they are eligible to vote on, at any polling place in their vicinity. Why shouldn’t Americans be able to vote at any nearby polling center?
● Weekend Election Day. As WhyTuesday.org has pointed out, the law mandating federal elections on Tuesdays was crafted in 1845 to accommodate Market Day. “Election Day” should suit contemporary American life: a 24-hour period from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, with early voting the week before. This would eliminate “rush-hour” backlogs early in the morning and at the end of the day, as well as Sabbath problems. If Wal-Mart can stay open 24/7, our democracy can stay open 24 hours once every two years.
[...] why elections fall on a Tuesday in early November? I didn’t either. According to a group called Why Tuesday?, it goes back to the 1840s, when “farmers needed a day to get to the county seat, a day to vote, [...