Election 2012: Should Election Week Replace Election Day?

OPINION

 @JosephLazzaro
on November 05 2011 12:54 PM

It's too soon to tell whether the Occupy Wall Street movement seeking economic and fiscal reform will follow through with its discussed One Person, One Vote, One Dollar effort, let alone succeed with it, but here's a different take:

Wouldn't it be better to try to democratize (small 'd') the voting process in other ways, first?

Occupy Wall Street's goal with One Person, One Vote, One Dollar is to take the influence of campaign contributions out of elections and restore integrity and egalitarianism to the electoral process -- i.e., have an election in which the primary expression of consent or direction is the vote -- as opposed to an election in which the candidate that attracts the most campaign contributions/PAC money has the advantage ... sometimes a deciding advantage.  

Occupy's goal is admirable and obvious enough -- transition to a system which levels the clout of each citizen to one person, one vote, one dollar -- where all persons have equal input. It's consistent with democracy.

Limiting Campaign Contributions May Take Awhile

The problem is, limiting campaign contributions -- barring some unforeseen upheaval or groundswell in the political process -- will take a long time, and in the meantime there's another way to democratize the voting process. (Again, small 'd.') That way: Replace Election Day with Election Week.

You read correctly: Election Week.

Currently, the United States holds Election Day on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. A fine enough day, except for the fact that Europe and other developed world democracies use longer election periods.

The obvious advantage? By creating a longer election period, or election window, Americans will have more opportunities to vote -- and that's a major factor for today's time-pressed Americans. Many Americans who failed to vote often express that they would have voted in a given election, but they had to tend to errands, pick up the children at school, or even had to work. Many polls close at 8 p.m. (or 9 p.m. as they do here in New York), and that sometimes does not leave enough time to vote.

An Election Week would help solve that: You would have from Sunday at midnight through Saturday at midnight to vote. That would give Americans who are busy working days, or nights, or who have to care for children, the time to vote.

To be sure, recent laws have helped allow for early voting and easier voting options for the sick, the elderly and others who cannot physically get to the polls to vote. But more must be done ensure that all adults have an opportunity to vote.

Further, an Election Week would surely increase the United States' voter turnout rate, which is currently very low for most elections, such as those for the U.S. House of Representatives -- one chamber that's representative of the will of the people.

And isn't having all the people vote in an election one of the core values of democracy?

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