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Seeking to combat lagging voter turnout nationwide, Congressman Steve Israel announced legislation on Tuesday that would move Election Day from the first Tuesday in November to the first full weekend.

Israel — whose district includes Bay Terrace, Whitestone and Glen Oaks — pointed out that last year, a majority of non-voters surveyed indicated that work, school or other scheduling conflicts prevented them from voting.

“It’s clear that voting on Tuesday doesn’t make sense anymore,” Israel said “By moving Election Day to the weekend, we are encouraging and giving more working Americans the opportunity to participate.”

According to his office, Israel has tried multiple times before to introduce similar legislation without success.

The Weekend Voting Act would allow for national polls to be open from 10 a.m. (Eastern Time) on Saturday to 6 p.m. (ET) on Sunday in the 48 contiguous states. Election officials would be permitted to close polls during the overnight hours if they determine it would be inefficient to keep them open.

Co-sponsors include Representatives James Clyburn of South Carolina, John Larson of Connecticut, John Garamendi of California, Alcee Hastings of Florida and Louise Slaughter of upstate New York.

“Weekend voting would empower working people, students and seniors‎ and add value to the major cornerstone of our democracy,” said Clyburn, who serves as assistant democratic leader.

The first Tuesday of November was designated as Election Day by a federal law passed in 1845. The second day of the week was chosen because farmers in the then-agrarian society needed a day to travel to polling sites by buggy after Sunday church services.

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Joan Ludvik June 06, 2016 / 04:58PM
This really makes no sense at all. We have weekend early voting that is hardly utilized by voters. Moving election day to a weekend only lowers voter turnout because people will make other plans outside of their voting precinct. Tuesday is fine because people are already out and will pass their polling places on their way home. Maybe extending polling hours to 9pm would be helpful. There are already laws that allow a person to leave work to vote without being fired. Of course they would not get paid for that time but they could have early voted.
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