Slaughter Introduces Weekend Voting Legislation on Susan B. Anthony Day
WASHINGTON, DC — Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-25) today introduced the Weekend Voting Act, legislation that would move Election Day from the first Tuesday in November to the first Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday in November, making it more convenient for voters and increasing turnout. Reps. John Garamendi (CA-03), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), John Larson (CT-01), James Clyburn (SC-06), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Ruben Kihuen (NV-04), and Alcee Hastings (FL-20) joined Slaughter as original cosponsors.
“Holding Election Day one day during the work week is an outdated requirement that was established over a century ago. That’s why today I am proud to introduce the Weekend Voting Act, which would make it easier for all Americans, especially seniors, students, and those who work night shifts, to cast their ballot. If we want to strengthen our democracy, we must make it easier for Americans to vote, not harder. I’m especially pleased to announce this legislation on Susan B. Anthony Day, in honor of Rochester’s trailblazing activist who dedicated her life to ensuring everyone had equal access to the ballot box,” said Rep. Slaughter.
“Strong voter turnout is essential to a healthy democracy. Yet, U.S. voter turnout is consistently among the lowest of all established democracies. Instead of spreading blatant falsehoods to disguise a cynical strategy to prevent people of color from voting, Republicans ought to be removing barriers to the ballot box and encouraging greater participation in our electoral process. The Weekend Voting Act would do just that and I’m pleased to be an original cosponsor,” said Rep. Clyburn.
“With Election Day always being on a Tuesday, too many Americans are forced to choose between going to work and voting,” said Rep. Swalwell. “We should be encouraging every eligible voter to participate in our democracy with as few barriers as possible. Our democracy is healthiest when voting is easily accessible to all.”
“Each year millions of Americans face the daunting challenge of juggling weekday work and family schedules to exercise their Constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote. An engaged citizenry with access to the voting booth is the cornerstone of our system of government. This visionary legislation would empower voters, not lobbyists and corporations, to hold government accountable and ensure we are democracy of the people, by the people, for the people,” said Rep. Tonko.
“Our nation is stronger when more Americans have the opportunity to vote,” said Rep. Larson. “Tuesday voting is an antiquated relic from a time when we were an agrarian economy that makes voting more difficult for those who can’t take time off of work or school. Weekend voting is a common sense measure to ensure greater participation in our democratic system of government.”
“We have an obligation to do everything we can to make voting easy for eligible Americans. Moving elections to the weekend is a simple and straightforward way to do just that, and to help millions of working Americans who want to exercise their constitutional right and duty,” said Norman J. Ornstein, Resident Politics and Public Opinion Scholar, American Enterprise Institute.
The tradition of holding federal elections on the first Tuesday of November began with an act of Congress in 1845. Tuesday was selected for its comparative convenience because it was a designated “court day” and the day in which land-owning voters would typically be in town to conduct business. The tradition was based on the then-agrarian American society.
If enacted, the Weekend Voting Act would move Election Day to the first Saturday and Sunday after the first Friday in November in every even year for elections of Representatives and Delegates to Congress, and in every fourth year for the election of President and Vice President.
Currently, most polls are open only 12 hours - from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. - for one day during the work week. Instituting weekend voting would make it easier and more convenient for all Americans to exercise their right to vote, helping to reduce long lines at the polls and increasing voter turnout. Specifically, weekend voting would benefit working Americans, students and seniors who are disproportionally affected by the current system.
Susan B. Anthony lobbied strongly for constitutional amendments guaranteeing the right to vote regardless of race or gender. She spoke before every session of Congress between 1869 and 1906 to advocate for universal suffrage. The 19th Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote in 1920, is known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment.”