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‘Weekend voting’ Category

Friday, October 24th, 2008

Why Tuesday? in The New York Times

NYT Op-Ed

The following Op-Ed, penned by our board member Norman J. Ornstein and U.S. Representative Steve Israel, is running today in the New York Times.

Washington

BY Nov. 4, more than $5 billion will have been spent trying to persuade voters to cast their presidential and congressional ballots one way or another. Despite all the money and the news media hysteria, and even with record numbers of Americans heading to the polls, the United States won’t even come close to the top nations in the world for voter turnout. We will be well behind — to name just a few — Iceland, Sweden and New Zealand.

What do those countries, among many others, have in common? Their citizens all vote on a weekend day. But in the United States, for more than 150 years, we’ve voted on Tuesday. Why? It’s not in the Constitution. It isn’t to avoid holidays. And it’s not because people hate Mondays.

The reason we vote on Tuesday makes perfect sense — at least it did in 1845.

To understand the decision Congress made that year, let’s imagine ourselves as members of early agrarian American society. Saturday was for farming, Sunday was the Lord’s day, Monday was required for travel to the county seat where the polling places were, Tuesday you voted, Wednesday you returned home, and Thursday it was back to work.

It’s a safe bet that today most Americans don’t follow the same schedule as our farming forefathers. In fact, for many, Tuesday is one of the most inconvenient days to hold an election. One in four people who didn’t vote in 2006 said that they were “too busy” or had “conflicting work or school schedules.”

Legislation now before Congress would finally tailor our voting system to modern American life by establishing weekend voting for national elections. (Mr. Israel is sponsoring the bill in the House.) Here’s how it would work: The presidential election would be held on the Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday in November, while for those who aren’t often home on the weekends, there would be a few days of early voting.

Our current system penalizes single parents, people working two jobs, and those who have to choose between getting a paycheck and casting a ballot. Two weekend days of voting means those working families would have a greater chance of making it to the polls. It means easing the long lines during rush hour at the polling sites. It means more locations, more poll workers and more voters.

Some have suggested making Election Day a holiday, but that would involve a serious cost to the economy. Moving Election Day to the weekend means more convenience and less expense.

Making a change like this won’t be easy, but it’s not unprecedented. In 1968, Congress passed the Monday Holiday law, which moved Memorial Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day and Washington’s Birthday from their original dates to Mondays. If we can alter our federal holidays to benefit shoppers and travelers, surely we can change Election Day for the benefit of our voters.

Let’s take a cue from the Congress of 1845 and ensure that voting is available to as many working Americans as possible — not just those who can make it to the polls on a Tuesday.

To learn more about Why Tuesday? click here.

Illustration by Ivory Simms for The New York Times.

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.

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

Ask The Candidates!

The election between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama may shatter voter turnout records. Even so, since 1945, less than half of all Americans have voted, and today the United States ranks 139 out of 172 in voter participation. Sign our petition to ask moderator Tom Brokaw to ask the candidates about America’s voting system at the 10/7 debate! (more…)

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

Another Reason To Vote On Weekends

Driving on Election Day

Driving on Tuesday Election Day may be hazardous to your health, so says NPR’s health policy correspondent Patti Neighmond. A new report by Dr. Donald Redelmeier in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates all of the rushing associated with our Election Day, smack in the middle of the work week, increases the likelihood of disabling or fatal accidents that’s why is handy to have an accident lawyer in contact for these occasions, which you can contact via http://www.accidentlawyerdallastx.com.

Redelmeier studied the U.S. in particular, he says, because this country maintains excellent statistics on vehicle crashes, noting exactly what time of day, when, where, vehicle, type and other information. He compared the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on Election Day Tuesday to the Tuesdays before and after.

His research revealed an 18 percent increase in motor vehicle deaths on voting day. “This equaled about 24 people [deaths] per election,” Redelmeier says, adding that “this was remarkably consistent across different locations and years.”

Redelmeier also found that about 800 more people suffered disabling injuries as a result of the crashes. These injuries and deaths far outnumber those reported during times associated with an increase in drinking and driving, such as Super Bowl Sunday and New Year’s Eve. Unlike on those days, Redelmeier says, alcohol didn’t seem to be an issue on voting day. And the crash rate didn’t increase in the evening, when people might be more likely to drink.

It may just be that emotions run high on voting day, he says. “There’s an election going on — everybody’s talking about it, paying attention to polls when maybe they should be paying more attention to driving.”

In the end, Redelmeier can’t say exactly why people crashed. He thinks they may have been speeding, trying to fit voting into hectic schedules. Research has already shown speeding significantly increases the risk of car accidents and deaths.

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So the message for American voters on Election Day is this: Keep your eye on the road — and slow down.

How’s this for an alternate message? Maybe we should vote on the weekend or a National Holiday, when Americans aren’t as pressed for time.

Don’t know why we vote on Tuesday? Click here for the answer.

You can watch Barack Obama tell us what he thinks about voting on Tuesday by clicking here. And you can watch John McCain talk about what he thinks about Tuesday voting by clicking here.

Car under American flag photo by Thomas Hawk on Flickr.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Senator Norm Coleman: Not Into Weekend Voting

Here is Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman’s full response to the question we sent to him last week about increasing voter participation.

To watch Al Franken’s response, click here.

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

Al Franken and Sen. Coleman Respond!

Last week we submitted a video question via YouChoose08 on YouTube to Senator Norm Coleman and Al Franken, who are up against each other for a U.S. Senate seat in Minnesota. We wanted to know what they would do to increase American voter participation. Well, they responded! (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

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...

Posted by John on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

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?