Thursday, October 28, 2010

Voting Reform Idea: 24 Hour Voting

How to make voting easier?  I've heard proposals for weekend voting, for a National Voting Day holiday so that people aren't at work, and of course we have various places with early or no-fault absentee or mail-in voting.  I don't recall ever hearing this one, however: what about 24 hour voting?  Start Election "Day" the previous evening, and go 24 hours, with a break from, whatever, midnight to 6AM, something like that. 

The nice thing would be that you could stagger the hours so that everyone started and ended at the same time: the East Coast could go from 8PM Monday night until 8PM Tuesday night, while the West Coast could vote from 5PM to 5PM.  Even Alaska and Hawaii would be on the same time. I think the TV folks would like that; I know that the people who worry about left-coasters being disenfranchised by early poll closing on the other side of the nation would will it. 

The downside would be that you would have to deal with ballot security overnight, and that it would cost some money, although not all that much.  And, what do I know -- maybe the people who don't vote now because they don't get around to it just consider voting low priority, and would pass either way (are there studies on the effects of polling place hours on turnout?  Anyone know?).  And in real life, getting all the states to buy in is a tough one (although federal grants have been known to affect state behavior before!). 

Still, it's less disruptive than the holiday, and more traditional than weekend voting.  What do you think?


  1. I don't get why 24 hour voting is a benefit. We've had early voting in my area for 2 weeks. I don't have 24 hours to vote, I have 2 weeks.

    Early voting works. There are Saturday hours, hours until 7 pm ... there are polling places all across the city open. Anyone who says they simply can't get to the voting booth in Davidson County is simply not trying very hard.

    I don't think the problem is the actual voting part. I think the problem is people are turned off by our entire political process. I can't even turn on the television these days because of the endless string of negative ads -- 99% of them have been Republican candidates hurling Nancy Pelosi's name like an epithet, though we have a few Dem candidates accusing their Republican rivals of all sorts of horrible things. And now I hear the Dems are about to drop $30 mill in ad buys or thereabouts. Oh happy happy joy joy. /sarcasm

    It occurs to me that such tactics do nothing but turn people OFF -- and enrich the local and national news media which sells the air time. I mean come on, folks. Finish the sentence. When we hear about political fundraising and how much money the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending on the campaigns and Karl Rove's corporate funded American Crossroads group and the unions and all that, finish the damn sentence! That money is being SPENT. On TV ads. The money is going straight from ExxonMobil and WellPoint and GM and Target and AFSCME and the rest and funneled straight to the media with a few consultants skimming their fees off the top.

    This is what frustrates and disillusions voters about our electoral process. We can see that the game is rigged. Our messed up political process is the corporate media's cash cow. Until THAT is reformed, none of the rest of it matters.

  2. Our poll workers in the country are largely volunteers....I don't see many signing up for the 2-10am shift.

  3. They close overnight -- I suggested midnight to 6. It's basically what they do now except they have a night shift Monday night, and in some places they would have to stay open later. It's an issue, but I suspect it could be overcome.


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