Why Tuesday?

Get Involved

‘Civil Rights’ Category

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Lewis: There Is Still Work To Do

John Lewis

Congressman John Lewis was beaten in 1965 as he marched for Civil Rights in Selma, Alabama. This week he had a message for Americans as the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial opened in Washington: the struggle for voting rights is far from over. Highlights the Congressman’s New York Times editorial, “A Poll Tax by Another Name,” are below.

Since January, a majority of state legislatures have passed or considered election-law changes that, taken together, constitute the most concerted effort to restrict the right to vote since before the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

[snip]

Having fought for voting rights as a student, I am especially troubled that these laws disproportionately affect young voters. Students at state universities in Wisconsin cannot vote using their current IDs (because the new law requires the cards to have signatures, which those do not). South Carolina prohibits the use of student IDs altogether. Texas also rejects student IDs, but allows voting by those who have a license to carry a concealed handgun. These schemes are clearly crafted to affect not just how we vote, but who votes.

Conservative proponents have argued for photo ID mandates by claiming that widespread voter impersonation exists in America, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. While defending its photo ID law before the Supreme Court, Indiana was unable to cite a single instance of actual voter impersonation at any point in its history. Likewise, in Kansas, there were far more reports of U.F.O. sightings than allegations of voter fraud in the past decade. These theories of systematic fraud are really unfounded fears being exploited to threaten the franchise.

In Georgia, Florida, Ohio and other states, legislatures have significantly reduced opportunities to cast ballots before Election Day — an option that was disproportionately used by African-American voters in 2008. In this case the justification is often fiscal: Republicans in North Carolina attempted to eliminate early voting, claiming it would save money. Fortunately, the effort failed after the State Election Board demonstrated that cuts to early voting would actually be more expensive because new election precincts and additional voting machines would be required to handle the surge of voters on Election Day.

Voters in other states weren’t so lucky. Florida has cut its early voting period by half, from 96 mandated hours over 14 days to a minimum of 48 hours over just eight days, and has severely restricted voter registration drives, prompting the venerable League of Women Voters to cease registering voters in the state altogether. Again, this affects very specific types of voters: according to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, African-Americans and Latinos were more than twice as likely as white voters to register through a voter registration drive.

These restrictions purportedly apply to all citizens equally. In reality, we know that they will disproportionately burden African Americans and other racial minorities, yet again. They are poll taxes by another name, similar to estate taxes or vehicles taxes as the IPVA 2018.

Hurricane Irene postponed the dedication ceremony for the memorial, but it hasn’t stopped our commitment to continuing the work started by Dr. King, Congressman Lewis, our co-founder Ambassador Andrew Young and others decades ago. For Congressman Lewis’ complete editorial, click here.

Photo of Martin Luther King Jr., John Lewis, Reverend Jesse Douglas, James Forman and Ralph Abernathy via History Channel.

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

From the CSPAN Archives

Today CSPAN launched a searchable online archive of video of all of their programs since 1987. Here’s the video of Why Tuesday? co-founder and board member Ambassador Andrew Young announcing the launch of our group in 2005, on the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which he help author.

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Dr. King

Our group was founded by personal acquaintances of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to honor the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, for which Dr. King fought for and won for all Americans.

Today, January 15th, is Dr. King’s birthday. But “Martin Luther King, Jr. Day,” a national holiday in the United States where government offices and many private businesses are closed, always falls on the third Monday in January, making a three-day weekend for the people of the United States. Other presidents’ birthdays, and Columbus Day, were also “moved” to make for three-day-weekends, and even Thanksgiving was moved by FDR to try and stimulate the economy.

Our question is this: if the birthday of one of our nation’s most famous election reformers can be moved to make for a three-day-weekend, why can’t Election Day be moved from the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, where it has been since 1845, to make voting more accessible in a country where voting ranks near the bottom of all countries in the world?

We don’t know the answer either. To find out why we vote on Tuesday, click here.

Join our movement to fix America’s broken voting system by following Why Tuesday? on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Edward Kennedy, Voting Rights Advocate, Dies

Kennedy

Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy died late last night at the age of 77. I’ve pulled from today’s New York Times obituary the many instances over his career that Senator Kennedy fought for voting rights and pasted them below. For the complete article, click here.

• Mr. Kennedy left his mark on legislation concerning civil rights, health care, education, voting rights and labor. He was chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions at his death. But he was more than a legislator. He was a living legend whose presence ensured a crowd and whose hovering figure haunted many a president.

• He returned to the Senate in 1965, joining his brother Robert, who had won a seat from New York. Edward promptly entered a major fight, his first. President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Voting Rights Act was up for consideration, and Mr. Kennedy tried to strengthen it with an amendment that would have outlawed poll taxes. He lost by only four votes, serving lasting notice on his colleagues that he was a rapidly maturing legislator who could prepare a good case and argue it effectively.

• Freed at last of the expectation that he should and would seek the White House, Mr. Kennedy devoted himself fully to his day job in the Senate. He led the fight for the 18-year-old vote, the abolition of the draft, deregulation of the airline and trucking industries, and the post-Watergate campaign finance legislation. He was deeply involved in renewals of the Voting Rights Act and the Fair Housing law of 1968.

• His most notable focus was civil rights, “still the unfinished business of America,” he often said. In 1982, he led a successful fight to defeat the Reagan administration’s effort to weaken the Voting Rights Act.

In recent years, Senator Kennedy stayed active on the issue of voting rights, working for the re-authorization of the Voting Rights Act and issuing a strong opinion about voter ID.

The New York Times obituary ends with a quote by our very own board member, Norman J. Ornstein:

“He was a quintessential Kennedy, in the sense that he had all the warts as well as all the charisma and a lot of the strengths,” said Norman J. Ornstein, a political scientist at the American Enterprise Institute. “If his father, Joe, had surveyed, from an early age up to the time of his death, all of his children, his sons in particular, and asked to rank them on talents, effectiveness, likelihood to have an impact on the world, Ted would have been a very poor fourth. Joe, John, Bobby … Ted.

“He was the survivor,” Mr. Ornstein continued. “He was not a shining star that burned brightly and faded away. He had a long, steady glow. When you survey the impact of the Kennedys on American life and politics and policy, he will end up by far being the most significant.”

Photo of Senator Kennedy by Stephen Crowley for The New York Times.

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

NYT: Uphold the Voting Rights Act

NYT

As we’ve discussed here before, the struggle to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965 is a moment in American history that is near and dear to our hearts. And in the spirit of the Voting Rights Act the Why Tuesday? team strives to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections.

Some of the same rank-and-file that participated in the fight for Civil Rights, like Ambassador Andrew Young and our founder Bill Wachtel, are the Why Tuesday? board members that push us every day to keep on in the war on low voter turnout.

Today the New York Times takes a look at an effort in Texas to repeal a specific section of the Voting Rights Act, in the name of progress, and decides that the argument being presented is flawed and counterproductive.

Some people claim that Barack Obama’s election has ushered in a “postracial” America, but the truth is that race, and racial discrimination, are still very much with us. The Supreme Court should keep this reality in mind when it considers a challenge to an important part of the Voting Rights Act that it recently agreed to hear. The act is constitutional — and clearly still needed.

Section 5, often called the heart of the Voting Rights Act, requires some states and smaller jurisdictions to “preclear” new voting rules with the Justice Department or a federal court. When they do, they have to show that the proposed change does not have the purpose or effect of discriminating against minority voters.

[snip]

In last fall’s election, despite his strong national margin of victory — and hefty campaign chest — Mr. Obama got only about one in five white votes in the Southern states wholly or partly covered by Section 5. And there is every reason to believe that minority voters will continue to face obstacles at the polls.

If Section 5 is struck down, states and localities would have far more freedom to erect barriers for minority voters — and there is little doubt that some would do just that. We have not arrived at the day when special protections like the Voting Rights Act are not needed.

We’ll keep on top of this story. To read the complete New York Times editorial, click here.

For more on our connection to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and to learn more about what we do, click here. Still don’t know why we vote on Tuesday? Here’s the answer.

Monday, January 19th, 2009

A More Perfect Union

Ambassador Andrew Young

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – As with so many people across the globe, today is very near and dear to Why Tuesday?’s heart. This organization was founded in the spirit of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 by William B. Wachtel whose father, Harry, was a close friend and advisor Dr. King. So today, we also salute the accomplishments of Why Tuesday? Board members Andrew Young and Martin Luther King, III. (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

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?