Saturday in Springfield, Illinois, Sen. Barack Obama selected Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate for the presidency. I interviewed both men for the Why Tuesday? Candidate Challenge last October. I asked the candidates to discuss their plans for increasing voter participation, since the USA ranks near the bottom of all countries when it comes to getting to the polls and casting votes. Obama told me he supported the idea of weekend voting to increase voter participation, but Biden said he wouldn't necessarily support it.
Obama: "I think we have to make it easier to vote. And I'm assuming that Why Tuesday? is in favor of, for example, of having it on weekends, so that more people can vote."
Biden: "My view is I don't see any strong evidence that having Election Day on a weekend is going to increase turnout relative to Tuesday... if I saw any data to suggest that it would create a larger turnout, then I would support that, whatever it took."
While Senator Biden is right and there is no silver bullet for increasing voter participation, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance published, on page 116 of "Voter Turnout Since 1945: A Global Report" (2002) that "a study in 2000 suggested that weekend voting increases turnout rates far above statistical relevance." We're working to track down that study, and will continue to monitor the candidates' positions on the state of the voting system and election reform in the general election, so stay tuned.
Why do we vote on Tuesday anyways? Click here for the answer.
Why Tuesday? is an effort to make America's democracy stronger through increased voter participation; we work to make election reform an issue that our politicians cannot afford to avoid. Read more campaign coverage from OffTheBus by clicking here.
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