House Democrats are making a renewed push to move Election Day to the first full weekend in November. If the reform, designed to increase voter turnout, is successful the move away from Tuesday voting could have wide-reaching implications for campaign strategy.
Reps. Steve Israel (N.Y.) and John Larson (Conn.) announced Friday that their bill would keep polls open from 10 a.m. Eastern on Saturday to 6 p.m. on Sunday with stations closing overnight.
Back in the 19th century, Tuesday was picked because “[i]t was the easiest day for farmers in our agrarian society to get to the polls,” Israel said. “But times have changed, and Tuesday voting just doesn’t make sense anymore. By moving Election Day from a single day in the middle of the work week to a full weekend, we are encouraging more working Americans to participate.”
Americans have voted on Tuesdays for more than 160 years, noted Larson. “It’s time we stop making people choose between exercising their responsibility to vote, and meeting their everyday obligations.”
In the release, congressional scholar Norm Ornstein pointed out that America ranks 138th out of 172 democracies in voter turnout. And of the G8 nations, the United States has the lowest turnout, whereas five of the seven nations with more robust participation vote on a weekend or national holiday.
The scheduling change would impact everything from direct mail to TV advertising strategy to turnout operations. Israel, who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, has long pushed for Election Day reform.