I introduced this new group on Saturday in a diary which explains where the name comes from; a video by the nonprofit, non-partisan organization called Why Tuesday? The video explains that Tuesday was chosen as the day we vote in an 1845 law so that each voter had time to ride to the county seat in his horse and buggy order to be able to vote.
Yes, I said "his" horse and buggy because originally only white men could vote. In fact, as Maureen Dowd pointed out in her column Romney Is President on Saturday:
Team Romney has every reason to be shellshocked. Its candidate, after all, resoundingly won the election of the country he was wooing.If our country had not grown and changed, then only white men who owned land would have been allowed to vote in the election, and Romney would have been elected the 45th president of the United States. But we have changed and if this election proved anything, we need further change to protect the rights of all Americans to vote.
Mitt Romney is the president of white male America.
At the end of Why Tuesday?'s video, Jacob Soboroff said:
Here's the cool part. Because we asked this question, Why Tuesday?, there's now this bill, the Weekend Voting Act, in the Congress of the United States of America. It would move Election Day from Tuesday to the weekend, so that duh, more people can vote. It has only taken 167 years, but finally we are on the verge of changing American history.Unfortunately, we do not have reason to celebrate because the bill has a ZERO percent chance of passing. And as many pointed out in the comments of my original diary, changing when we vote from Tuesday to Saturday and Sunday is not necessarily the solution to the myriad of problems we have in the voting process in today's America. I learned something else about why we vote on Tuesday that I didn't know when I wrote the diary. Thanks to rugbymom questioning if the reason we vote on Tuesday was correct, I did further research. Not only was it correct because voting was done at the "county seat" not the nearest town, but the reason one nationwide day was chosen was to stop voter fraud! Yes, even in 1845 voter fraud was a problem.
In its infancy, the US had no set day for national elections. From 1792 until 1845, Congress allowed states to hold their polls any time in the 34 days before the first Wednesday in December, which was the day the Electoral College met.Unless you live in a swing state, you may not have any idea what voters in swing states were subjected to. As many of you who have kept up with my diaries already know, during the last four weeks of the election I phone banked, making over 4,000 calls and actually had conversations with 1200 to 1500 people. I learned a lot from those voters. The majority of people were sick and tired of receiving all the phone calls. As one woman said (paraphrasing):
Eventually fraud became rampant. Political parties organized gangs of supporters to move from state to state to vote in close elections. So in 1845, Congress established a uniform Election Day for the offices of president and vice president – the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November.
I'm a Democrat. I'm voting a straight Democratic ticket. I know who to vote for. I know what to do about the Supreme Court justices. I know how to vote on the amendments. Please stop calling me.What that woman didn't realize or understand was that there were a lot of voters who were not as informed as her, and the only way we could identify those uniformed voters was by calling all the voters we could in Florida. Other informed voters did not react with anger, but offered a big "Thank You" for volunteering. And so the most important conversations I had were with people who did not have all the facts. Many told me that they weren't voting because they couldn't find their voter information card. I was able to tell them that in Florida, you do need to show identification, but not your voter information card.
When you go to the polling place to vote, you will be asked to provide a current and valid picture identification with a signature. Approved forms of picture identification are: Florida driver's license; Florida identification card issued by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles; United States passport; debit or credit card; military identification; student identification; retirement center identification; neighborhood association identification; and public assistance identification. (Section 101.043, F.S.) If the picture identification does not contain a signature, you will be asked to provide an additional identification with your signature.For me, the most heartbreaking part of the election here in Florida was seeing the long lines of people waiting six to nine hours to exercise their right to vote. Now that the 2012 election is over, I'm still fired up and ready to go! I think one of the most important contributions we as a community can make to our democracy is to work towards change that will put an end to voter suppression and voter registration fraud in the future. As I mentioned above, changing the day(s) we vote is not necessarily the solution. Since writing the original diary, I discovered other bills that have been introduced in Congress, both called the Voter Empowerment Act of 2012.
The first, H.R. 5799, was introduced in the House of Representatives in May and has a prognosis of 3% of passing. The bill is explained at The Hill's Congress Blog:
There is no more important right in our society than the right to vote – it is the basis of all of our other rights. It is why generations of Americans have fought and died for the right to vote. And as a result of their sacrifices, today government and society as a whole has become more reflective of the democratic principles enshrined in our Constitution.The second, S. 3608, was introduced in the Senate in September 2012, and has a prognosis of 23% of passing. The bill is explained at The Brennan Center for Justice:
Given the importance of this hard-fought right, the American people deserve an election system that not only protects but enhances every eligible voter’s ability to register, cast a ballot, and participate in our democracy. But rather than improve access to the ballot box, over the past year states have enacted laws which undermine this fundamental right.
“As the leading democracy of the world, our voting system should be free, fair, and accessible to all eligible Americans,” said Wendy Weiser, Democracy Program Director. “No matter your political party, we can all agree that every eligible American should have the opportunity to vote. Modernizing voter registration is something everyone can get behind. It is an innovative reform that could add more than 50 million eligible citizens to the rolls, permanently. It is significant and commendable that Senator Gillibrand and members of the House included this vital proposal in their voting bill.”Another great suggestion for change that I read on Saturday was Twigg's diary, Voting Made Easy (Because I am determined to make the GOP hate me):
“Senator Gillibrand joined House leaders to support important voting reforms at a moment when this fundamental democratic system is under attack,” added Nicole Austin-Hillery, Director and Counsel of the Brennan Center’s Washington, D.C. office. “Whether young or old, rich or poor, voting is the one time when we all have the same say. We need to strengthen our democracy by making our voting system work better for all Americans.”
We do have a very easy solution to the problem, and whatever minor objections might be raised, it's a bit of a no-brainer.There are a lot of great solutions out there. I will be the first to admit that I am a novice at organizing people for a cause. But until last month, I never phone banked before either. It was that experience of phone banking that inspired me to start this group because I couldn't find an existing group here at Daily Kos dedicated to improving our election system and fighting the GOP efforts at voter suppression.
We have, in every territory, every Congressional District, every State an infrastructure that could be employed at very little cost, that would ensure easy access to the polls.
We call them Public Schools.
The schools are right where we need them to be. They are embedded in local communities, where the people who would vote actually live. The schools are staffed by educated people who would, or at least could, conduct the ballot with a minimum of oversight.
I will also admit that I'm not exactly sure I know what I'm doing or how to do it. But I do think that the first step is to grow the group. So I'm asking all of you who support this cause will join the group. Once we are strong in numbers, we can work together to determine the next best step to take to make a change to improve our country's election system.
I have already learned that many registered users here at Daily Kos do not know how to join a group. Some don't even know that we have groups. So here's how you go about joining this group (which is how you join on other groups too.
(1) Request an invitation. You can do that by posting a comment in this diary, or sending a Kos Mail to the group.
(2) You will receive a Kos Mail inviting you to join the group. Click the "Accept this invitation" link and you will become a member of the group.
(3) As a member of the group, you will see all diaries published by the group in the "MY STREAM" section of your personal profile. "FOLLOWING" the group will also show the same diaries in your stream.
(4) As a member of the group, you can write diaries and publish them to the group.
(5) As a member of the group, you can suggest other diaries you read at Daily Kos to be published to the group.
Here is the official Daily Kos explanation groups and the different group membership levels:
Group Leadership Roles:Currently I am setting every one as an "Editor" so we can all actively participate in the group. If you would be interested in taking a leadership role in the group and become an admin, please send me a Kos Mail.
A group is a publishing organization, and the people above run it.
Admin has absolute control over the group -- they can manage publication schedule, invite more people into the leadership, fire them.
Editor can manage the queue (actually publishing diaries to a group's home), but has no ability to hire and fire.
Member can just queue things, but can't actually publish to the group's home page.