My friend Alex Tourk has recently enlisted me in a new project he is working on for November — an effort to increase voter turnout by allowing people to vote on a day other than Tuesday. Alex says:
Over the past 10 elections we have averaged 47% voter turnout of eligible voters. That’s abysmal for a city that considers itself to be politically savvy. Less than half of our population is participating in the democratic process; electing our leaders, and making important decisions for the future of our City.
There’s no silver bullet that will magically ensure 100% voter participation, but the decision to hold our elections on Tuesdays is one that was made 150 years ago in a different era. It was a Judeo-Christian society where individuals would have their days of worship on the weekends, pack up their horse and buggy on Monday, and travel into town squares to conduct their business, which included voting.
We decided 150 years ago to host elections when it was convenient for people to vote, but today, how is hosting an election mid-week in any way convenient? Are we encouraging people to participate in the democratic process by hosting elections on a day when families have numerous obligations?
Changing elections to a day where people have fewer obligations is a step we can take towards making voting and participation in our democratic process more accessible, and I hope it’s a step you’ll take with me.
Alex is not one to do things in a half-hearted or small way, so he’s launching a full-on campaign to convince San Franciscans that weekend voting is an idea whose time has come. On Saturday April 3, Why Tuesday SF will formally launch a signature drive to put the Saturday Voting Act on the November 2010 ballot (10,000 signatures from San Francisco registered voters will be needed by July 7). The Saturday Voting Act will:
- Extend opportunities to vote by opening all polling places on the Saturday before a Tuesday election.
- Maintain traditional Tuesday voting, as well as all other means of voting, including absentee and early voting.
- Not cost taxpayers one dime, since all costs associated with the Saturday Voting Act will be donated by organizations and individuals.
- Engage our youth to participate in the electoral process and become more active participants in our neighborhoods, our schools, and our future.
Why Tuesday, indeed? To get involved or learn more about the Saturday Voting Act, visit whytuesdaysf.org or come on by the kickoff event this Saturday, April 3 at the Ella Hill Hutch Community Center (1050 McAllister St. @ Webster) at 11 a.m. San Francisco registered voters can get a petition and start collecting signatures now!
I totally agree Tuesday voting makes no sense whatsoever. Most countries vote on Sundays.
Saturday is the Sabbath for certain religions…. Sunday for other religions. How about 24 hour voting from 1pm Saturday to 1pm Sunday. Or vote both days.
that way, no one can complain and no one has any excuse not to vote.