As the group WhyTuesday.org has pointed out, the practice of holding elections on Tuesdays stems from an 1845 law meant to accommodate an agrarian society that is long gone. Today, voting on a workday is a burden for most Americans, and it just isn’t necessary. The District is free to move its local elections to the weekend. Ideally, Election Day would be a 24-hour period running from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, to avoid both religious conflicts and the inevitable morning and evening “rush hours” created by voters flocking to the polls before and after work. But if voting over two days is too onerous or expensive, the city could have Election Day on either Saturday or Sunday, with early voting a few days beforehand for those who are away on the weekend or can’t vote on the Sabbath.
Happy President’s Day. Time for a throwback!
In 2008 we made this video to point out that, while we love our presidents, it is utterly ridiculous to move their birthdays for the convenience of shoppers (and, really, to do the bidding of labor and retailers) when we can’t agree to move Election Day for the convenience of voters.
Here’s some background on today’s holiday from the Contra Costa Times:
In 1968, after much wrangling, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which officially took effect in 1971 following an executive order from President Richard Nixon.
It was part of a plan to shift a number of holidays to specific Mondays with the express intent of creating three-day holidays. The bill was strongly supported by both organized labor and the nation’s retailers. Let’s face it, politics hasn’t changed much. A coalition with strong support from both labor and business usually gets what it wants in Congress.
This was testament to that maxim.
The act shifted Washington’s Birthday from the fixed date of Feb. 22 — Washington’s actual birthday — to the third Monday of February.
Estonia has been e-voting since 2005 while the UK lags woefully behind. Technology is transforming democracy across the globe
How would you use technology to combat apathy?
H/T WT? advisory board member Steve Grove.
Thanks to our co-founder and board member Norm Ornstein for the shout out at the Voting Summit 2014 today. The Twitterverse is talking!
Two members of our team have a message for President Obama’s Commission on Election Administration:
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young and Martin Luther King III said moving the traditional voting day to the weekend would increase voter turnout by making it easier for working mothers and poor people to vote.
“How many single working moms and working folk with two jobs do you think have the time to vote on a Tuesday?” Young said. “It is no wonder that census after census cites the inconvenience of Tuesday as the most common reason people say they don’t vote. And it is a disgrace that the greatest democracy on the planet ranks 138th of the 172 voting countries around the world.”
Young and King said the Presidential Commission on Election Administration should have included weekend voting as an option.
We applaud the Commission’s bipartisan consensus on the need to make voting easier and more accessible for all eligible Americans, but believe that many more steps can be taken beyond the Commission’s recommendations. While we favor more opportunities for voting before Election Day, Election Day itself needs to be changed from Tuesday – which reflects an antiquated law enacted in 1845 – to the weekend, which is a vastly more convenient time for voters. We challenge Congress to put its partisan differences aside and act now to bring American elections into the 21st century.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
As we’ve pointed out before, in the late summer of 1939, in an attempt to help stimulate the economy, the Associated Press reported that President Franklin D. Roosevelt, from his “boyhood Summer cottage,” decided to move Thanksgiving up one week at the request of “many persons, most of them retailers.” The New York Times ran the article, as you can see above.
Spolier alert: it didn’t work out.