Which voters waited on long lines to cast their ballots on Tuesday? According to a survey by the AFL-CIO, Obama voters were much more likely to wait on lines longer than 30 minutes than Romney voters, with blacks and Hispanics especially vulnerable.
The long lines were so bad, it took just two minutes for President Obama to mention them in his victory speech on Tuesday, with a rare flash of anger: “By the way, we have to fix that.”
It looks like President Obama will address election reform during the State Of The Union tomorrow night. Michelle Obama has invited this 102-year-old North Miami woman who had to wait in line for three hours to vote.
This week’s elections featured a number of losses for progressive politics, but there was at least one silver lining: They showed that when voters have an opportunity to reject big donor politics, they overwhelmingly will. In both Maine and Seattle, voters approved ballot measures to implement or strengthen public financing, an important reform that can increase the diversity of the donor pool and reduce the power of big money in politics. In Maine, the ballot initiative would boost funds for qualifying candidates and require more disclosure of some political spending. In Seattle, Initiative 122 implements a first of its kind voucher program, which gives each voter $25 vouchers that they can give to their preferred candidate for mayor, city council and city attorney. The initiative also bars contribution from companies or individuals that have large contracts with the city.
“All of this tells us why we need comprehensive immigration reform,” Sanders said after hearing the stories of families who can only see their loved ones on weekends. “I would hope that the Republicans in Congress understand that we have a very, very broken immigration system and that it must be reformed and that they should in fact work with Democrats to pass comprehensive immigration reform. If not and if I am elected president of the United States, I will use the executive powers that the president has to do that the best that I can.” #Love it!
There is an active debate, especially in older democracies on how to increase voter turnout. Some of the factors that may increase turnout would require complicated changes in electoral laws and even in constitutions, while others, like changing the day of election, would require little effort but could have a significant impact.
Of the 86 countries that Freedom House labelled as democratic in 1996, and that held election in one single day almost half of them had their latest election on Sunday. Saturday and Monday were the second most frequent election days. More recent figures also suggest that about half of the countries hold their elections on a non-business day.
A study in 2000 suggested that weekend voting increases turnout rates far above statistical relevance. One analysis found that turnout figures would on average increase between five and six percentage points if Election Day for national elections changed from a weekday to a rest day. When it comes to elections for the European Parliament (which feature extremely low turnout in most EU countries), the same change could account for a nine percentage point increase.
If election day were moved from a weekday to a Saturday or a Sunday, religious groups that worship on these days might be offended, but there is another possible solution to follow the example of a vast number of countries, including South Africa, Germany, India, Chile, Samoa, Vanuatu and the Philippines, where the election day automatically becomes a holiday.
Bernie Sanders Releases ‘Family First’ Immigration Plan, Just in Time for Thanksgiving
“As we gather with our loved ones to give thanks, we should reflect on the fact that not all families will be so lucky,” Sanders said. “Millions of families are torn apart by our broken immigration policies. We cannot forget about the aspiring Americans who continue to live in the shadows. As the son of an immigrant, I can tell you that their story – my story, your story, our story – is the story of America: the story of hardworking families coming to the United States to create a brighter future for their kids We have an obligation to enact policies that unite families, not tear them apart.”
Four years ago, 62 percent of Maine voters cast their ballots for someone other than the man who would go on to become governor, Paul LePage. Up for re-election this year, a majority of Maine voters again opposed LePage. Again, he won.
That’s because Maine, like nearly every state, currently uses “first-past-the-post” voting, in which the winning candidate is simply the one who receives more votes than any other candidate. This system works well when there are two candidates facing off because the winning candidate will inherently have received a majority of the votes. However, first-past-the-post begins to look silly when more candidates come into the mix. The 2012 Iowa GOP presidential caucuses, for example, featured a slate of seven candidates, but less than a quarter of caucus-goers supported the ultimate winner, Rick Santorum. (Iowa also uses an arcane process to assign delegates among the candidates after the caucuses have already happened, though, under a first-past-the-post system, Santorum would have won the entire contest in Iowa.)
Organizers in Maine are out to prevent future scenarios like these where candidates are elected with a minority of the vote. The Committee for Ranked-Choice Voting is currently collecting signatures to force a referendum on the matter in 2015. The group has already gotten more than 45,000 signatures and aims to get about 15,000 more before it submits the list for certification in early January.
As the group WhyTuesday.org has pointed out, the practice of holding elections on Tuesdays stems from an 1845 law meant to accommodate an agrarian society that is long gone. Today, voting on a workday is a burden for most Americans, and it just isn’t necessary. The District is free to move its local elections to the weekend. Ideally, Election Day would be a 24-hour period running from noon Saturday to noon Sunday, to avoid both religious conflicts and the inevitable morning and evening “rush hours” created by voters flocking to the polls before and after work. But if voting over two days is too onerous or expensive, the city could have Election Day on either Saturday or Sunday, with early voting a few days beforehand for those who are away on the weekend or can’t vote on the Sabbath.
Our board member and resident scholar Norm Ornstein, in today’s Washington Post, on ways to help Washington D.C. increase voter turnout.