WASHINGTON - With low voter turnout on Long Island expected Tuesday, Rep. Steve Israel announced he would be filing legislation again to switch the federal Election Day from Tuesdays to the weekend.
“Voting should be easy and accessible,” said Israel, a Huntington Democrat. “By moving Election Day to the weekend we are encouraging, and giving more working Americans the opportunity to participate.”
This is will be the fourth time that Israel has filed a bill to drop Tuesday as the federal voting day because he said it is inconvenient and leads to lower turnouts.
Congress established Tuesday as the best day for voting in 1845, Israel said, because it was the easiest day for farmers in an agrarian society to go to the polls. Now, in an urban era, many people don’t vote because they work or are busy on Tuesdays.
Currently no place holds voting exclusively on the weekend instead of on Tuesdays.
But 33 states have laws that extend the voting period before the Tuesday election day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
California and Illinois are among them. New York is not.
Here, according to the United States Election Project at the University of Florida, are the percentage of registered voters that turned out in each of the last three federal general elections:
State 2010 2012 2014
California 45.8% 55.8% 30.8%
Illinois 43.1% 59.3% 40.9%
New York 36.3% 53.5% 29.0%
U.S. 41.8% 58.6% 36.6%
New York has the lowest voter turnout rate for each of the three elections. Other factors likely are involved, but it is a pattern worth examining.