If it ain't broke, don't fix it, goes the expression. Well, according to the New York Times, the American voting system is broken. So let's fix it. For us here at Why Tuesday? it was an extreme pleasure to see an extra-long editorial making the case for election reform this morning.
In last year's presidential election, as many as three million registered voters were not allowed to cast ballots and millions more chose not to because of extremely long lines and other frustrating obstacles. Ever since the 2000 election in Florida, the serious flaws in the voting system have been abundantly clear. More than eight years later, Congress must finally deliver on its promise of electoral reform.
At a hearing last week, the Senate Rules Committee released a report sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the sorry state of voting. It said that administrative barriers, such as error-filled voting lists or wrongful purges of voter rolls prevented as many as three million registered voters from casting ballots. Another two million to four million registered voters were discouraged from even trying to vote because of difficulty obtaining an absentee ballot, voter ID issues and other problems.
The bad news didn't end there. According to the report, another nine million eligible voters tried to register but failed to because of a variety of hurdles, including missed deadlines or changes in residence.
President Obama championed election reform when he was in the Senate, and Democrats, who have been far more committed to the cause than Republicans, now have healthy margins in both houses of Congress. Supporters of a more fair, efficient and inclusive system of voting should not let this moment slip away. The millions of registered voters who are being turned away deserve a lot better.
We know well that President Obama supports election reform. He said so to me in this vlog we shot with him in Iowa during the 2008 campaign.
The NYT editorial mainly advocates for universal voter registration, sort of like what we saw when we visited North Dakota on Election Day, and for more lenient voter ID laws. There's no mention, however, of a problem that is routinely cited by Americans time after time in U.S. Census data: for many Americans, voting is simply inconvenient. In more than a handful of states, you can only vote on "the Tuesday after the first Monday in November." Why Tuesday? Here's the answer.