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Congressman Brendan Boyle and PA Rep. Kevin Boyle Announce Companion Weekend Voting Legislation to Strengthen Voter Engagement

June 4, 2018
Press Release

HARRISBURG, PA – Today, inside the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building, U.S. Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13) and his brother, PA State Rep. Kevin Boyle (Philadelphia), announced companion legislation to officially change election day nationwide and statewide to the weekend after the first Friday in November in order to increase voting accessibility, engagement, and turnout.

“Countless other developed nations around the world currently hold elections on weekends”, said Congressman Brendan F. Boyle. “We have seen time and again, how low voter turnout results in disenfranchisement, frustration and civic apathy. Weekend voting is a proven method that increases accessibility, engagement, and turnout. If work, school or other responsibilities become a roadblock for citizens wishing to exercise their right to vote, then it is the government’s obligation to take steps to ease that burden. It can, and must, create a path to the voting booth for those American citizens who live with such challenges. Weekend voting makes sense, and would only serve to create an unmitigated path to the voting booth that ultimately benefits our democracy.”

“The Constitutional right of each citizen to vote is a true example of equality of opportunity”, said Pennsylvania State Representative Kevin J. Boyle. “Our current practice of holding Tuesday elections is dated, ineffective and unrepresentative of a modern societal population. Weekend voting would give Pennsylvania residents a more powerful voice in electing the people who make the laws in the Keystone State that we live under every day. From Essington to Erie—from Scranton to Pittsburgh, weekend voting would benefit citizens in all corners of the state and in every municipality in between. I urge my colleagues here in the state house to join me in supporting this commonsense legislation.”

Dating back to 1845, elections in the United States have been held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. This practice was established to allow farmers sufficient time to get to their county seat to vote without interfering with the Sabbath (on Sunday) or market
day (on Wednesday). Based on recent election results, voter turnout in the United States ranks 26th out of the 32 highly developed and democratic OECD countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) – nations that are primarily considered highly developed, democratic states. In presidential elections from 2000 to 2012, approximately one-fifth of registered voters who did not cast a ballot listed “too busy, conflicting work or school schedule” as their reason for not voting. In 2014, roughly 35% of those who were eligible to vote but did not do so listed scheduling conflicts with work or school as their primary reason for not voting. In the 2016 election, dislike of the candidates and lack of interest surpassed conflicting schedule, but this was still the third highest reason for registered voters deciding not to vote.

Congressman Boyle’s legislation carries on the legacy of long-serving Congresswoman Louise Slaughter (NY-30). Congresswoman Slaughter introduced the legislation in 2017 prior to her tragic passing in March of this year. Boyle has been a long-time proponent of this change in policy in order to strengthen our democracy. He is now carrying the torch in the U.S. House and re-named the legislation to honor Slaughter, “The Louise Slaughter Weekend Voting Act.”