It turns out that the constitution has nothing to say about voting day, either: largely for reasons of nineteenth-century horse travel (which also lies at the origin of the senatorial “hold”), in 1845 Congress made Tuesday the day that Americans vote for the President; Tuesday was legislated for House elections in 1875; in 1914 it was extended to the Senate. Now we’re stuck with Tuesday voting as well, and in spite of the best efforts of [The New York Times’ Joe] Nocera, Chris Rock, and a group called Why Tuesday?, I will probably have to make time to vote on a work day (as I did yesterday) for the rest of my life. There’s always a constituency for democratic foolishness: for the filibuster, it’s senators in the minority party; for Tuesday voting, politicians who fear high voter turnout. Tuesday voting is a classic unnecessary stupidity, but sometimes, the more stupid a thing is, the harder it is to get rid of it.
Move elections to the weekend. Do you know why elections fall on a Tuesday in early November? I didn’t either. According to a group called Why Tuesday?, it goes back to the 1840s, when “farmers needed a day to get to the county seat, a day to vote, and a day to get back, without interfering with the three days of worship.” Today, of course, casting your ballot on a Tuesday is an impediment: lines in urban areas are long, people have to get to work, etc. It is especially difficult for blue-collar workers — a k a Democratic voters — who don’t have the same wiggle room as white-collar employees.
Young Elected Officials FTW!
Leave it up to young elected officials to come up with the best ideas!
With voter turnout in the United States worse than most other countries in the world, we’re stoked to hear about the effort led by Wisconsin’s Andrew Londre to get Election Day moved to the weekend so more people can vote.
A La Crosse county board member is leading the latest effort to change federal election law.
Andrew Londre, the county board supervisor for La Crosse County’s district nine, led the effort to submit a petition to the President and leaders of the House and Senate calling for presidential and congressional elections to take place on weekends.
Current election law, passed in 1845, mandates those elections take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
The law was passed at a time when the U.S. economy was heavily reliant on agriculture. New sessions of congress would begin in December, after the farming season had concluded, so elections needed to take place beforehand.
Sunday, seen by many as a day of worship, was not considered as an option. Lawmakers felt Monday would be a travel day, allowing voters to commute to their designated polling places, and it was decided the election would be held on Tuesday.
But Londre said Tuesday elections are inconvenient in today’s day and age.
"Tuesday’s a day most Americans go to work," Londre said. "If you’re a student, you’re in class from the morning until the evening."
"What that does is create rush hours," he added. "People create long lines in the morning and after work when they get to the polls and for students in between classes."
Londre and 44 other members of the Young Elected Officials Action Network believe a weekend election, allotting voters a Saturday, Sunday or both days to vote, would both help eliminate the aforementioned rush hours and boost voter turnout.
Right on Andrew!
Reblog to show your support and sign our petition to the President and Congress asking them to support the Weekend Voting Act as well!
The judge who paved the way for today’s restrictive voter ID laws told HuffPost Live he regrets his decision. A little late, don’t ya think?
Our co-founder, Civil Rights leader Ambassador Andrew Young, speaks (and sings!) on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in advance of President Obama’s remarks today to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Our organization was founded in 2005 to honor the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement on the 45th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark piece of legislation recently gutted by the Supreme Court.
We need your support. Join our movement to push for voting rights for all in the United States, 50 years after Dr. King spoke of his “dream.”
Photo via League of Women Voters on Twitter.
But she’s been a supporter of election reform for years, including during the 2008 campaign when she endorsed our work and the idea of moving Election Day from Tuesday, where it serves absolutely no good purpose.
As WhyTuesday.org has pointed out, the law mandating federal elections on Tuesdays was crafted in 1845 to accommodate Market Day. “Election Day” should suit contemporary American life: a 24-hour period from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, with early voting the week before. This would eliminate “rush-hour” backlogs early in the morning and at the end of the day, as well as Sabbath problems. If Wal-Mart can stay open 24/7, our democracy can stay open 24 hours once every two years.
We’ve often talked about the need for an “upgrade” to a Voting Rights Act 2.0 — today our co-founder Norm Ornstein outlines what one might look like in The Washington Post.