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Soubresaut's avatar

What would it take to change the voting day in the US?

Asked by Soubresaut (13695points) July 26th, 2017

More to the point, what (a) change(s) would make it easier for the most people to access the polls, and why? (Or do you not believe there needs to be (a) change(s), and why?)

Would those changes mitigate the impact voter ID laws may have, or that people are concerned voter ID laws may have? From my own experience, one party tends to talk about changing the voting day, and the other party tends to talk about voter ID laws. Could we do both and make everyone happy, while also making every US citizen’s constitutional right to vote as accessible as—or more accessible than—it already is?

If you have articles/studies/etc. to cite, please do share! I love sources.

(I might not respond directly in the thread, but I promise I am reading everything and considering everything, especially any points that challenge/disagree with positions I hold… I worry I come across as one-sided in political issues, so I thought I’d put this disclaimer here…)

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14 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

It would take an act of Congress to change the date of Election Day. They set it, so they would have to be the ones to change it. Note, however, that Congress only sets the date for federal elections. Other elections are held at the same time out of convenience, but state and local governments would also have to pass legislation conforming their election days to the federally designated one.

As for what changes would make it easier for most people to access the polls: same day voter registration, expanded early voting, paid time off to vote (whether in terms of a mandated voting break or declaring Election Day a federal holiday). Or if you want more abstract suggestions, a general crackdown on voter suppression would be nice (though the aforementioned concrete suggestions would already help there).

In all likelihood, none of these suggestions would mitigate the downsides of voter ID laws. For that, we need to make voter IDs free (as they are probably required to be given Supreme Court decisions outlawing poll taxes). Combined with same day registration, you could sign up and get your ID all at once, making it a lot harder to stop someone from just getting in line and voting.

elbanditoroso's avatar

It won’t happen. Largely because by having election day on a weekday, many people who work all day are unable to vote. and many many retired people (largely white, largely conservative) have no problem getting to the polls.

So it is to the republicans’ advantage to make it difficult for working people to vote.

zenvelo's avatar

@Soubresaut ”...also making every US citizen’s constitutional right to vote as accessible as—or more accessible than—it already is?

There is a sizable portion of the political landscape that is viscerally opposed to that, and has worked hard against that for over 150 years.

PullMyFinger's avatar

Hmmm…..let’s see…..The Feds making things more fair, equitable and convenient for the voters in general…....umm…....nope…..ain’t gonna happen.

Next, we’d want to make lobbying, gerrymandering and “campaign contributions” (aka influential bribery) illegal.

Again…...ain’t gonna happen.

The last thing anyone in politics considers is what might be more fair to the common citizen (hey, I’m just happy that there aren’t gigantic billboards on the moon…..yet….)

johnpowell's avatar

Automatic Voter Registration when interacting with the DMV.

And also Vote By Mail.

Vote by mail is sweet. I have never had to actually stand in a line to vote. They mail you a ballot a month in advance so you have some time to actually research all those odd local things on the ballot. Then you stick it in the mail or you can drop it off in person.

Our turnout is nearly 70%.

LostInParadise's avatar

A number of states permit early voting, both in-person and by mail. Apparently the federal law just says that voting must be permitted on election day, but does not prohibit early voting.

JLeslie's avatar

Many states have early voting, as others have said above. Many of the states that have early voting are “red” states, which are often accused of trying to make it harder for minorities to vote.

I do think Election Day should be a paid holiday. Maybe I’ll change that in my company. Although, my state has lots of early voting (I think it lasts 2 weeks) and early voting includes weekend hours, and my employees are often done with their workday by 3:30pm so they have no problem voting. Even if they wait until Election Day. The state I lived in previous to this also had early voting.

Jaxk's avatar

Frankly I think this whole thing is a ‘Red Herring’. If you want to vote you can vote. If you don’t want to vote you can come up with a thousand excuses for not voting. I have no problem saying that voting is a right but there are a couple of caveats that pertain. You must be a citizen and ‘one person, one vote’. We seem to want to ignore those caveats. I see a couple of suggestions that we make voting day a holiday or paid time off. Basically, making your employer pay for you to vote. Where did that comes from? If you want to vote take some responsibility for yourself.

Most people that don’t vote don’t have a clue as to what the issues are or what the cadidates stand for. They are willing to let the rest of the country make the decisions for them. Frankly that’s OK with me. I don’t want to force them to get involved with voting until they get involved with the issues. I would much rather work to get an informed electorate than merely work to get the uninformed to the polls. Sorry, I’m tired and cranky.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jaxk For people who live check to check, taking time off to vote can mean losing a few hours of pay. Even if employers don’t give them paid time off, it’s nice if they are cooperative and maybe give some sort of way to make up the time. Some people do have work and transportation constraints. Early voting is usually only done in a few locations in the county, compared to Election Day that typically has many many locations.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Jaxk First, the OP explicitly limits itself to making voting more accessible to US citizens, and no one has suggested any violation of “one person, one vote.” So those caveats you are so worried about are not being ignored. Second, the question asked for ways to increase accessibility. Saying that paid time off to vote would increase accessibility is not automatically an endorsement of such a policy, and the only person who has endorsed it specified that she was thinking of implementing it for her own company. Are you of the opinion that employers should not be able to give people paid time off if they so choose? Third, there’s nothing stopping us from increasing voter participation and voter education. So your last point is a false dilemma fallacy.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I’m not so sure why you are so bothered by @Jaxk‘s statement? Maybe @Jaxk was referring to the comment about automatic voters registration, or just a random comment that he doesn’t believe in pushing or forcing people to vote. I’m with him on letting the people who are disinterested not vote. I don’t mind automatic registration though. Honestly, I don’t see why every 18 year old who is a citizen isn’t automatically registered, and same goes for selective service, why do people have to fill out a form for that? All I can guess is our government systems don’t talk to each other, so maybe the fed isn’t wholly aware when someone turns 18, and states aren’t aware either?? That doesn’t bother me too much come to think of it, it’s just surprising to me.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t have to be bothered by something in order to respond to it. But since you don’t seem to have understood my last answer, here is an annotated guide just for you.

Statement by Jaxk: “I have no problem saying that voting is a right but there are a couple of caveats that pertain. You must be a citizen and ‘one person, one vote’. We seem to want to ignore those caveats.”

My response: “The OP explicitly limits itself to making voting more accessible to US citizens, and no one has suggested any violation of ‘one person, one vote.’ So those caveats you are so worried about are not being ignored.”

Statement from Jaxk: “I see a couple of suggestions that we make voting day a holiday or paid time off. Basically, making your employer pay for you to vote. Where did that comes from?”

My response: “The question asked for ways to increase accessibility. Saying that paid time off to vote would increase accessibility is not automatically an endorsement of such a policy, and the only person who has endorsed it specified that she was thinking of implementing it for her own company. Are you of the opinion that employers should not be able to give people paid time off if they so choose?”

Statement from Jaxk: “I would much rather work to get an informed electorate than merely work to get the uninformed to the polls.”

My response: “There’s nothing stopping us from increasing voter participation and voter education. So your last point is a false dilemma fallacy.”

Jaxk's avatar

It’s good to see people arguing about what I said but I think @SavoirFaire missed my point. Voting is easy enough right now. All it takes is the desire to vote. Most states have early voting so you should be able to make it in a week or two. The polls are open for 12 hours or more so even if there’s no early voting you can easily make it to the polls before or after work. There’s always absentee voting as an option as well. If none of this works for you, it is not because voting is too difficult, it’s because you don’t want to vote.

All the schemes intended to make it easier accomplish nothing except to invite fraudulent voting. We have no problem with voting access. The only way to make this easier is to let the Democrats vote for you. How about a show of hands, how many want that?

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

I don’t see why we can’t vote from our laptops or telephones. If they are serious about making it accessible, I think they should find a secure way to do that. Those people without devices can go to the library.

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