NEW YORK, NY – Check out the first Get Out the Why video submission! Jacob Wheeler caught up with Representative Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) to ask why we vote on Tuesday?
Although Rep. Ellison supports moving Election Day to the weekend, he did not know the answer. In all fairness to the Congressman, most people have no idea why Election Day is on Tuesday.
Some background. Rep. Ellison represents Minnesota’s 5th congressional district. He is a member of Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. When Rep. Ellison took office in 2007, he became the first muslim to be elected to the United States Congress and the first African-American elected to the House from Minnesota.
Thank you for the great video, Jacob Wheeler! Keep asking the tough questions!
Do you know why Election Day is on Tuesday? Specifically, “the Tuesday after the first Monday in November”? Don’t fret as Presidents, Senators, Congressmen and almost everyone we have asked didn’t know either. The times are changing and with your help the decision by Congress in 1845 to accommodate farmers will be adapted to the modern day reality that voting on Tuesday is no longer the most convenient day to cast your ballot.
Get Out the Why is our biennial national call to anyone with enough gumption and a video camera (or phone) to ask politicians and influential Americans (“influencers”) why Election Day is on Tuesday. We are offering cash rewards (and better than that, priceless and tax-free psychic income for helping our democracy) for your video submissions that fit the bill.
I’m pretty sure that tomorrow night U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer appears on HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm in a cameo role. I’m not positive, but I’m fairly certain after seeing the teaser for the episode, called The Anonymous Donor, just now on HBO. Last October, after driving across the country talking with our elected officials about Tuesday voting, I went behind the scenes at the episode’s filming to talk with the Senator about election reform. Check out the video below, and watch Senator Boxer tomorrow night on HBO.
Well, we can add yetanothername to the list of 2008 presidential candidates that we’ve asked why we vote on Tuesday. We just got an e-mail from Harvard University senior Jake Levine, who was on the case last week, snagging two big-time interviews in the Boston area with Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and Representative Barney Frank (D-MA). It turns out neither knows why we vote on Tuesday, but both like the idea of weekend voting.
Levine caught up with Obama as he was leaving a rally at the Boston University Agganis Arena. He e-mails that he had some camera phone technical difficulties during his Obama interview:
Unfortunately, the thing only takes 15 second videos at a time, and the sound is hard to pick up. This is what it missed: Obama thinks elections should be on a weekend. And he insists that they are traditionally held on Tuesdays because it is a state’s decision and each state has decided to be consistent with Tuesday.
Senator Obama raises an interesting question: what can individual states do to help increase voter turnout? Today 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. But the root of the problem, as you may know, is that we vote on Tuesday because of an 1845 federal law that was passed when 80% of Americans lived on farms. At the time it could often take a day or longer to get to the polls, and Congress did not want this travel to conflict with days of religious observance, which left Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday was market day. So: Tuesday.
In the second video, Congressman Frank says he has “no idea” why we vote on Tuesday, but his “intuitive answer [to the question] is let’s do it on the weekend.” Levine said this interview was a little easier to come by, and more intimate:
… there were none of the usual photographers, security, or nuisance that usually comes along with a high-profile speaker at the Kennedy School or other function. So it was easy in that sense to get ahold of the Congressman, and I think he was more than happy to talk.
Here at WT? we’re trying to start a national conversation about election reform. Voting is the right on which all others are based, and too few Americans are exercising that right. How can we do better? We think that moving Election Day from the middle of the week might be one answer. We’re trying to show that we ALL can and MUST bring our lawmakers and representatives – with whom these decisions ultimately rest – into the dialogue if we’re going to see a change. So join us and Get Out The Why!
Why Tuesday? road team Jacob Soboroff and Barnett Zitron were back at it March 31, visting with WT? co-chair Bill Bradley. The former Senator and presidential candidate was in Mendham, N.J. signing copies of his new book, The New American Story. At the event, the Senator was shooting a video blog for his site. Look for the appearance (and an interview with Jacob) to show up there (or on his Gather page) soon. Jacob asked Senator Bradley what he thought was stopping Congress from changing the way and day we vote — check out his answer:
The question “why do we vote on Tuesday?” spurs many more fundamental questions: Why is the vanishing voter epidemic sweeping America? Why does the United States lag behind nearly every democracy on Earth in voter turnout? Senator Bradley’s book tour is just getting started. Check his schedule to hear him speak about these and other issues. He’ll be stopping by The Daily Show, Tavis Smiley and Real Time with Bill Maher too, so tune in to hear our co-chair getting out the Why? on national TV.
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.
Patrick, France is a post-Christian secular country. Relatively few of them attend church, and voting on Sunday does not interfere with their religious practices, because most of the population is not religious...