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‘Election 2008’ Category

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Forecast: Cloudy With A Chance Of Low Turnout

Empty Polling Place Photo

In today’s New York Times John Harwood asks a question about tomorrow’s midterm primary elections, “Angry Voters, But How Many?”, which got our attention. He highlights the fact that not only was turnout for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 election underwhelming, but that it’s probably not going to get much better than that this time around.

In 2008, when Mr. Obama’s candidacy galvanized Democrats and intrigued the nation, nearly 4 in 10 Americans declined to vote. Even at peak interest, the American appetite for democratic rituals is hardly universal.

Without a presidential race to lead the ballot, the appetite is even weaker. The last time more than half of the eligible citizens voted in a midterm election was nearly three decades ago, in 1982, census figures show.

Students of modern political history point out that this is often a problem for Democrats. Their less-affluent constituency traditionally goes to the polls at lower rates.

“We usually do well when the turnout is low,” said John Morgan, a longtime Republican demographic specialist.

Comparing 2010 to one election with modest turnout in which his party captured both houses of Congress, Mr. Morgan observed, “This smells like 1946.”

Elections with low turnout can allow parties to tilt the outcome substantially through small shifts in the composition of those voting.

In the 1994 midterms, for example, overall turnout as a proportion of eligible citizens dropped slightly. But since Representative Newt Gingrich’s party was energized that year and President Bill Clinton’s was downcast, the result earned the moniker “Republican Revolution.”

“You can have a big-wave result,” Mr. Cook said, “without a big wave of voters.”

We’ll be monitoring tomorrow’s vote here. If you’re curious why we’re voting on Tuesday, the answer is here.

Photo of empty polling place via nonnormalizable on Flickr.

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

Mayor Bloomberg Announces Election Reform Plan

Mayor Bloomberg Votes Election Reform

If New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has his way Americans would be automatically registered to vote, they would be voting on the weekend, and it would be easier to gain access to the ballot if you wanted to run for office in New York City.

Today Mayor Bloomberg announced his “Easy to Vote & Easy to Run” election reform plan which includes an endorsement of Rep. Steve Israel and Sen. Herb Kohl’s Weekend Voting Act, a piece of legislation that we’ve talked a lot about here. The data-friendly mayor also wants to create a Democracy Index in New York City to help target, as he has done with the 3-1-1 system in New York City, problem voting areas throughout New York’s five boroughs.

Why Tuesday? board member Norman J. Ornstein is quoted in Mayor Bloomberg’s press release announcing his plan, saying “this set of reforms is a huge step forward to making the voting system work and revitalizing democracy in New York. It should serve as a model for elections across the country.” The Mayor’s complete press release is below. (more…)

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

Election Reform At Netroots Nation 2009

Sarah Burris wrote the following blog after attending the election reform panel at Netroots Nation 2009. Burris blogs at Future Majority and served as a reporter for Rock the Vote’s project Rock the Trail during the 2008 elections. She was a recipient of the Democracy for America scholarship to Netroots Nation in Austin, Texas in 2008.

NN09 Panel

One of the panels I attended at Netroots Nation was Repairing our Democracy: Voter Registration Modernization and other Solutions with speakers Secretary Debra Bowen California’s Secretary of State, Dean Logan the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk for Los Angeles County (the nation’s largest county), Jonah Goldman a national expert on voting and elections, and Justin Levitt counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice. The panel was also moderated by Eric Marshall, campaign manager for the National Campaign for Fair Elections in the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law’s Voting Rights Project.

Highly knowledgeable experts on the panel seemed to develop the consensus that the system is broken. (more…)

Monday, April 6th, 2009

For Indian Election Info, Google It

Google Indian Elections

For the 2008 United States presidential election, we teamed with YouTube and PBS to launch Video Your Vote, a program that intended to create the largest library of polling place Election Day video ever in order to help make voting as accessible, reliable and secure as possible (see the NYT article). It was a giant leap for the United States election community, where we can’t even register to vote online (except in Washington and Arizona). As we’ve discussed here before (see my video chat with Princeton professor Ed Felten), in Estonia, they’re already voting on the internet.

Now Google, YouTube’s parent company, is teaming up with some heavy hitters in India to bring vital election info to the people of India with their Lok Sabha Elections Center, the type of project that is much-needed here. I picked up this story via our advisory board member Tom Rossmeissl, who saw it on TechCrunch. (more…)

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

NYT: American Voting System STILL Broken

NYT

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, goes the expression. Well, according to the New York Times, the American voting system IS broken. So let’s fix it. For us here at Why Tuesday? it was an extreme pleasure to see an extra-long editorial making the case for election reform this morning.

In last year’s presidential election, as many as three million registered voters were not allowed to cast ballots and millions more chose not to because of extremely long lines and other frustrating obstacles. Ever since the 2000 election in Florida, the serious flaws in the voting system have been abundantly clear. More than eight years later, Congress must finally deliver on its promise of electoral reform.

At a hearing last week, the Senate Rules Committee released a report sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the sorry state of voting. It said that administrative barriers, such as error-filled voting lists or wrongful purges of voter rolls prevented as many as three million registered voters from casting ballots. Another two million to four million registered voters were discouraged from even trying to vote because of difficulty obtaining an absentee ballot, voter ID issues and other problems.

The bad news didn’t end there. According to the report, another nine million eligible voters tried to register but failed to because of a variety of hurdles, including missed deadlines or changes in residence.

[snip]

President Obama championed election reform when he was in the Senate, and Democrats, who have been far more committed to the cause than Republicans, now have healthy margins in both houses of Congress. Supporters of a more fair, efficient and inclusive system of voting should not let this moment slip away. The millions of registered voters who are being turned away deserve a lot better.

We know well that President Obama supports election reform. He said so to me in this vlog we shot with him in Iowa during the 2008 campaign.

The NYT editorial mainly advocates for universal voter registration, sort of like what we saw when we visited North Dakota on Election Day, and for more lenient voter ID laws. There’s no mention, however, of a problem that is routinely cited by Americans time after time in U.S. Census data: for many Americans, votin is simply inconvenient. In more than a handful of states, you can only vote on “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November.” Why Tuesday? Here’s the answer.

Previously in the NYT:
Voting Rights Act Scaled Back
Uphold the Voting Rights Act
Why Tuesday? New York Times Op-Ed: Everyone’s Voting For The Weekend

More voting news today:
LA Times: Conservatives invoke Obama in Voting Rights Act challenge

Friday, February 6th, 2009

Super Bowl Tuesday 2

Even in Florida, where voter participation was higher than the national average, nearly 5 million eligible voters didn’t vote in the 2008 presidential election. I headed to Tampa to ask a question we’ve asked here before: what if we took our elections as seriously as we take the Super Bowl? Watch the video to see what Florida Governor Charlie Crist has to say about that.

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?