January 16, 2012

GAO Report on Weekend Elections is Flawed

AS A former Registrar of Voters in California, I've always thought that we should try weekend voting as a way to potentially increase voter participation. Other countries do it and the process seems to work well. And a few of those places have some of the highest turnout on the planet, as the United States continues to experience low participation rates.

The Government Accounting Office (GAO) recently released a report on weekend voting for federal elections. Below is a part of their abstract.

'Many U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote in federal elections do not do so. fr instance, in the 2008 general election, about 62 percent of eligible citizens voted. To increase voter turnout by enhancing convenience, some states have implemented alternative voting methods, such as in-person early voting - casting a ballot in person prior to Election Day without providing a reason - and no-excuse absentee voting - casting an absentee ballot, usually by mail, without providing a reason. In general, since 1845, federal law has required that federal elections be held on Tuesday.

The committees on appropriations directed GAO to study and report on costs and benefits of implementing H.R. 254 - the Weekend Voting Act - including issues associated with conducting a weekend election. Specially, this report addresses: alternatives to voting on Tuesday that states provided for the November 2010 general election, (2) how election officials anticipate election administration and costs would be affected if the day for federal elections were moved to a weekend, and (3) what research and available data suggest about the potential effect of a weekend election on voter turnout.'

Unfortunately, the report is based on Saturday and Sunday voting - voting over a two day span. That starting point flaws the analysis of the report. The GAO, in my opinion, should have focused on one day weekend voting - either Saturday or Sunday.

Understandably, election officials were negative on the idea of two day weekend voting saying that it would increase costs and complexity. 

But what if weekend elections were held on one weekend day - either Saturday or Sunday? I suspect that many of those issues would disappear and turnout would increase.

>Read the GAO report here - also, check out Why Tuesday, a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections.

Note: Down below is what Presidential candidate Rick Santorum had to say about Tuesday elections.

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