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Friday, October 24th, 2008

George Stephanopoulos Likes Weekend Voting Too!

George

ABC News Chief Washington Correspondent and “This Week” Host George Stephanopoulos saw our Op-Ed in The New York Times today, and liked it, or so he blogged. See below for his endorsement of Weekend Voting from “George’s Bottom Line.”

Let’s Go to Weekend Voting

October 24, 2008 9:58 AM

One third of likely voters say they’ll vote early, nearly double what it was eight years ago.

But we don’t yet know whether the surge in early voting is simply capturing people who are going to vote anyway or actually expanding the electorate.

In their New York Times op-ed today, Rep. Steve Israel, D-NY, and Norm Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, call for weekend voting to increase the country’s voter turnout rate.

They argue Tuesday voting has depressed voter turnout rates in the US, and unfairly penalizes low-income voters who often choose between having to work and voting.

Israel is sponsoring a bill in the House of Representatives to scrap Tuesday voting and move to weekend voting on the first Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday in November.

I think Israel and Ornstein raise an important point here. Let’s go to weekend voting.

For more from Stephanopoulos, click here.

Photo of Stephanopoulos preparing for the ABC News Democratic Debate at the National Constitution Center by Why Tuesday? director of photography Thomas Macker.

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008

Why Tuesday? in TIME Magazine

TIME

Make sure to pick up the Election Week edition of TIME Magazine. Managing Editor Richard Stengel gives us a shout-out in his article “Closing In on Election Day.” Here’s the relevant excerpt:

On Tuesday, Nov. 4, we will be selecting our next President. Here’s my question: Why Tuesday? If your answer was, Because that’s the way we’ve always done it, you’d be right. We’ve been doing it that way since 1845, and the murky reasons for it are that nobody wanted to vote on the Sabbath and voters needed time to travel by horse and buggy. But I’ve long thought–as have many others–that holding an election on a workday is undemocratic and makes it difficult for people to fulfill their signal act of civic participation. Either change it to Saturday, or make Election Day a holiday.

The fact that so many states now allow early voting or no-fault absentee voting is a good thing. But as a nation that is the beacon of democracy, we sure make it hard for people to participate. The American registration system is far more local and decentralized than that of almost any other Western democracy, and we pay a price for it. As Michael Scherer’s story points out, on Nov. 4 a host of problems could arise from issues such as inaccurate registration databases, badly designed ballots and confusing rules. While those problems may not be determinative or alter the result, they could, and the fact that we allocated nearly $3 billion through the Help America Vote Act in the past six years without much improving the system is a scandal. Both Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin and Representative Steve Israel of New York have introduced a Weekend Voting Act, and you can find out more about these issues at WhyTuesday.org and FairVote.org.

For the full article, click here.

Read the complete explanation of why we vote on Tuesday over here.

If you’re new here, 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. Make a tax-deductible donation to us by clicking “donate” on any page on our website.

Previously: Why Tuesday? in TIMEā€¦ kinda

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

In AZ, Video Your Vote! Then Watch ‘Em Count It

According to a local news outlet, Your Valley West, Arizona Secretary of State Jan Brewer took another leap towards making Election Day results in Arizona more transparent and accountable by installing multiple webcams inside all of the State’s vote tabulation rooms.

Arizona is one of two States that currently uses state-wide online voting registration system called EZVoter. The implementation of this system makes registering to vote much more convenient, and perhaps most important, allows interoperability between the States’ various databases rendering electronic voter rolls more accurate, more up-to-date, and more manageable by poll workers and election administrators. So, if you are living in Arizona, here is your suggested Election Day itinerary: (more…)

Monday, October 13th, 2008

People Are Talking About Our Voting System!

Last night I noticed we were getting some traffic by way of a Reddit post, so I went to check it out. Turns out it was a link to our friends over at The Point, who are running a user-generated pledge to create a de-facto Election Day National Holiday. Here’s how it works: if 100,000 agree to participate, then the de-facto holiday is on, and I guess they’ll all skip work. So far only 455 takers.

The post made it to the front page of Reddit last night and as of right now has 192 comments. Here’s a screen shot:

Reddit

Below is a sampling of the comments from the thread:

Over here (Greece), elections take place on a Sunday and Monday is a national holiday, even though you usually vote in your city of residence.

And in Greece it’s a crime to not vote on election day. Too many people lost their lives liberating Greece from oppression to be slapped in the face by some [bleep!] who has better things to do than vote. it’s a disgrace to people who die to liberate you to not take a moment to vote.

I don’t get most of the federal holidays off now, so adding a federal holiday for the election won’t affect me at all. It’s a nice idea in concept, but those who are most likely to miss the election because of work wouldn’t necessarily get the day off work just because it is a holiday.

Most states already have laws on the books mandating paid time off on election day. With the polls opened 7am until 7pm in most places, most people working a standard 8 hr shift can get to the polls without issue. Additionally, one can pre-vote or submit an absentee ballot to ensure that their vote is counted.

What I don’t get is why it’s on a weekday. I mean surely, even if you don’t want to make a new holiday, you could at least put it on the day where the fewest amount of people work? What’s the disadvantage to having an election on a Saturday or Sunday?

Click here to read all of the responses.

Still don’t know why we vote on Tuesday? Click here.

Saturday, August 2nd, 2008

LinuxWorld Test Run For Open Source Voting

Next week in San Francisco a voting machine that runs on open source software and was designed by the Open Voting Consortium, a nonprofit with the stated goal of moving towards “trustable and open voting systems,” will be put to use at LinuxWorld, where they will be holding a mock election. Apparently 100,000 people are expected to participate. Here are some of the details from the San Francisco Chronicle:

The LinuxWorld conference is held every year in San Francisco to discuss open-source software – software whose code is designed and maintained by volunteers. The conference takes its name from Linux, computer operating system designed by Linus Torvalds in the 1990s that has a passionate following. It competes against Microsoft Windows and has spawned software for numerous devices, including voting machines.

Open-source software is free for anyone to use, although licensing restrictions apply – changes to the code, for example, usually need to be given back to the community. The code that runs this voting machine is based on the work of a former Berkeley student, Ka-Ping Yee, who now works at Google.

At a price of about $400, the new voting machine is a tenth of the cost of proprietary machines – less if made in quantity, Dechert said – because it’s simply designed and based on free software. Its workings are transparent, he said, unlike some of the electronic voting machines that California decertified for security problems.

People who attend the conference will vote by scanning a bar code on their badges, then selecting a candidate from a computer screen. When they’re done, they will print their ballots, which will include their bar codes. A separate machine can scan the bar codes and read their votes back to them if they choose.

Votes can be audited in several ways – by manually counting the ballots, scanning the bar codes, or processing pictures of the ballots to see if the text on each ballot matches its bar code.

The article goes on to say that this particular could be certified and ready to roll in real (not mock) elections by 2010. I’m down in Los Angeles now and will be next week, and might try and make it up for LinuxWorld if I have the time. This sounds pretty cool.

Click here for a look at our past coverage of electronic voting, including an interview with a Princeton professor, the Mayor of Philly and more.

Sunday, July 6th, 2008

Universal Voter Registration?

Brennan Center

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law is circulating a draft policy paper about universal voter registration, and it’s pretty interesting. This system would place the onus of registering to vote on the government, not the individual, by requiring municipalities, states and perhaps even Washington to reach out to all eligible voters with a way to register — rather than the other way around. (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?