Roland Martin suggests moving Election Day to first Saturday in November

martinrolandsite1.jpgI have to credit Gordon Keith and Muse in the News for alerting me to an innovative idea proposed by CNN Contributor Roland Martin. Martin suggests that the U.S. Government should consider moving election day from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November, to the first Saturday in November.

See Roland’s article We should vote on the first Saturday of November.

It’s not the first time I’ve heard this topic tossed around, but it is the first time I’ve seen the idea articulated in any meaningful way. Here are some of the high points from Roland’s article:

  • Now that the political parties have informally settled on their nominees, the focus turns to November 4, when the nation will go to the polls to choose a new president. But why is Election Day on a Tuesday? Why in the world do we continue to insist on voting on a weekday when we are supposed to be encouraging as many people to vote as possible?
  • The purists are likely to argue that everyone knows that a Tuesday in early November is set aside for Election Day. So with that in mind, just leave the election in November. Sure, it would make better sense to go with a month during which it’s warm in nearly all of the USA, but the consistency argument also makes sense.
  • In 2004, 71 percent of all eligible voters were registered, according to a story by the Carnegie Reporter, “Election Reform: Lessons From 2004.” But of that number, 60.7 percent voted. Someone is likely to say that with the number of people voting up in 2004 from the number in 2000, that’s not bad. But when we see 90 percent of voters in Iraq voting — and we are trying to instill democracy there! — it’s clear that impediments to voting in the United States aren’t helpful.
  • Instead of putting up barriers for people who want to vote, we should be the most open society when it comes to giving our citizens as many options as possible to vote, and moving Election Day from a weekday to a weekend makes a lot of sense. We can’t speak of our cherished democracy around the world if we aren’t willing to improve it every chance we get.

Would people rather take time off work to vote, or miss out on some shopping and college football? I’m not sure, but I think Roland is on to something here.

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