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07 January 2009

Weekend Voting Bill Introduced In U.S. Senate

Yesterday, on the first day of the 111th Congress, one hundred forty-three bills were introduced in the United States Senate including one by Wisconsin Senator Herb Kohl that would move federal election day from the first Tuesday in November to the first weekend in November.

"Holding our Federal elections on a weekend will create more opportunities for voters to cast their ballots and will help end the gridlock at the polling places which threaten to undermine our elections," Kohl said during remarks made on the Senate floor.

During the 2008 presidential election, long lines dominated many Georgia polling places which resulted in elected officials such as 5th district Congressman John Lewis calling on Secretary of State Karen Handel to extend early voting into the weekend before the November election.

Handel refused Lewis' request saying that her office did not have the authority to permit weekend voting.

The Wisconsin Democrat cited the long lines across the nation as the reason why his legislation is needed.

"As we’ve seen in recent elections, long lines in many polling places have kept some voters waiting much longer than one or two hours," Senator Kohl said. "If voters have children, and are dropping them off at day care, or if they have a long work commute, there is just not enough time in a workday to vote."

"With long lines and chaotic polling places becoming the unacceptable norm in many communities, we have an obligation to reform how our Nation votes."

In addition to weekend voting, S. 149 would also provide a uniform period of time for polling places to be open; 10AM Saturday eastern time to 6PM Sunday eastern time.