BY JOE MARVILLI
The day before the General Election, U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Melville) called for the passage of legislation that would change when Americans vote to a weekend.
On Nov. 4, outside of the Clearview Senior Center in Bayside, Israel said that voters would be better served by moving Election Day from a Tuesday to the weekend after the first Friday in November.
According to the Congressman, the United States comes in 138th place out of the 172 developed, democratic nations in the world for voter participation. Last year, the percentage of registered New Yorkers who voted for the presidential election was barely above 50 percent.
Israel added that the reason Election Day is on a Tuesday was due to a Congressional decision in 1845, to accommodate farmers in the country’s agricultural economy.
“Instead of voting on Tuesday to accommodate a group of farmers in 1845, let’s have weekend voting,” Israel said. “We should expand the vote to all day Saturday, all day Sunday. It’s sensitive to the religious observances of those who do observe. We owe it to our society to do better.”
The bill has been introduced by Israel for the past four years. While it does have support on both sides of the aisle, there has not been enough momentum for it to pass.
State Sen. Tony Avella (D-Bayside), Assemblyman Edward Braunstein (D-Bayside) and several civic leaders were on hand to support the legislation.
“This is absolutely essential to get more people involved and ensure the greatest democracy in the world continues,” Avella said.
Braunstein added that additional attention to weekend voting will make it a reality.
“Hopefully, with more media scrutiny and more publicity, the public will catch on to what is something that’s very important to making sure that we have everybody participate in our democracy,” Braunstein added.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @Joey788.