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!
U.S. Representative Steve Israel (D-NY) and I sat down yesterday in Washington, D.C., and he soon thereafter became the first member of Congress to report as a Why Tuesday? correspondent! Watch the video for our chat, and his report. (more…)
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!
Well, the elections are over, but we’re still trucking. Jake Schroeder just sent us this clip of Congressman Todd Platts “answering students questions at York Suburban High School in his 19th Congressional District on November 3rd. Students were free to ask any question ranging from border security to social security. I was able to ask him why we vote on Tuesdays.”
In what might be the longest discussion of participation and its woes we’ve gotten so far, Congressman Platts makes several interesting points. He comes down hard in favor of absentee ballots: he thinks that they represent an important way to make sure that people who are unable to make it to the polls are allowed to exercise the franchise. He disagrees with the idea that weekend voting would help, using an argument often used against “convenience voting,” which is that certain ways of making voting more convenient denigrate the institution (“it’s an excuse”). And, lastly, he points out that a lof these questions can be solved at the State level- something we’re aware of as well, and which has got us thinking.
What are the states doing? For a breakdown of no-excuse absentee balloting and in-person absentee balloting (early voting), click here. It seems that, at the State level, reform is alive and well: 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; 36 if you count the fact that the majority of Washington votes by mail. How has this affected turnout? What does this mean for the remaining fifteen? To what extent do people in these states know about their options? Stay tuned for more…
Michael Teigen got this clip of Mike Thompson, House Representative for the great state of California. In addition to 18 years of legislative experience, Congressman Thompson is the co-founder and co-chair of the (bipartisan) Congressional Wine Caucus and former co-chair of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus. In Michael’s words: “Staked him out at the Baywood Country Club in Arcata, California. He first said that he was too busy. Then when attempting to drive away he stopped and let me ask the question.” The shot does inded appear to be from a car. So.
Not only does Congressman Thompson know about Shiraz and the infield-fly rule- he appears to have a pretty keen grasp on why we vote on the day we do. In response to the Congressman’s historically accurate answer, it’s interesting to note- with great respect for those who work in the area- that in recent years the “Agricultural Sector” employed 1.9% of the labor force (2000) and comprised 0.7% of our GDP (2002). The source of these stats is the Economic Research Service of the USDA; you can read more here.
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...