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S.1828 / H.R.1094 - Weekend Voting Act

Congress man and Senator Jack Reed from Rhode Island.

To change the date for regularly scheduled general elections for Federal office to the first Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday in November in every even-numbered year.



You might favor this bill if:
►  You believe that our current election day should be changed from a Tuesday to a full weekend. Having our current election day on Tuesdays comes from an outdated law which used to benefit farmers back in the era of an agricultural economy; it serves us little to no purpose today.

You might oppose this bill if:
►  You believe that changing the election date will not increase voter turnout. Voter turnout is determined by the likeability of the elections themselves and not by the date on which the election is held.


The Weekend Voting Act would move the general elections day from Tuesdays to the first full weekend of November. This would give voters two full days to vote in any federal election, such as voting for the President or for members of Congress. The legislation excludes state and local elections but does mandate states to establish the hours of operation for polling places in accordance to the guidelines of the bill.

An 1845 law, which establishes today’s election day, was established with the intent of giving farmers a whole day to travel to the city if necessary and still make it back for “market day” on Wednesdays. The current law states that elections must be set "the Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November”, this is because lawmakers did not want election day to occur on the Catholic holiday “All Saints Day” on November 1st.

The bill accounts for religious practices. The weekend elections, in accordance to the bill, should be carried out in a manner which does not interfere with any religious practices and in a manner that results in cost savings to the American taxpayer.


According to the Pew Research Center, in the 2016 elections, 14% of non-voters did not vote because they were “too busy or had conflicting schedules.”


“Tuesday voting is an outdated, arcane practice that stands in the way of greater voter participation. Congress set Tuesday as Election Day in 1845 because it was the easiest day for farmers back then, but Tuesday voting has no such societal benefit today,” sponsor Senator Reed said in a press release. “Americans should not have to choose between their workday and family responsibilities and participation in our democratic process.”

Those who oppose the legislation argue that changing the election date will not increase voter turnout.


“Putting elections on the weekend isn’t going to solve low turnout if you don’t have interesting elections,” Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin told the Boston Globe. “If it’s an exciting election and it affects people, they will vote. But if it’s not, they’re not going to come out on a weekend or a weekday, if the only vote is for cemetery commissioner.”


If enacted, the legislation would take effect beginning November 2018. The House version of the legislation was introduced in May 2018, the Senate version was introduced on mid September 2018.

H.R.1094

Sponsored by: Rep. Slaughter, Louise [D-NY-25].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 95 Dem.

See list of cosponsors.

S.1828

Sponsored by: Sen. Reed, Jack [D-RI].

Cosponsored by: 0 Rep / 6 Dem / 1 Ind.

See list of cosponsors.


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