Changing voting rites

Instead of heading out for a Sunday walk in the park, would the ability to head out for a Sunday stroll to the polls make a difference in voter turnout?

That’s the premise of an effort to rid the US of its traditional Tuesday election day in favor of a schedule that reform advocates say would make it easier for more people to exercise their voting rights. Weekdays can be a harried rush of workday commuting, dropping off and picking up kids, and other demands that can crowd out a stop at the polls, say those pushing for change.

Today’s Globe piece on the effort hooks the storyline to yesterday’s Sunday election for president in France. The story notes that turnout there was lower than usual, but still higher than it is for most US elections.

A switch to weekend voting has been promoted for years by a nonprofit group called Why Tuesday? The goal is to “make voting a pleasant experience as opposed to a pain,” cofounder Norm Ornstein, a well-known policy voice at the American Enterprise Institute, tells the Globe.

The group, founded in 2005, says the US ranks 138 out of 172 countries in voter turnout since 1945. Turnout in US presidential contests is about 55 percent of the voting-age population, compared with 70 percent in France. (French turnout dipped to about 65 percent yesterday, however.)

Former Republican Senate leader Trent Lott was part of a bipartisan panel in 2014 that applauded efforts to have the US move to weekend voting, which is done in many countries and a few states.

But a bill that has been filed repeatedly in Congress to move federal elections to weekends has a decidedly partisan feel: All 49 cosponsors of the measure are Democrats. Ornstein says Republicans fear higher turnout would help Democrats.

But research is pretty equivocal on the question of whether weekend voting would actually mean higher turnout. In the end, people have to feel compelled by a sense that their vote is important and that an election matters.

“Putting elections on the weekend isn’t going to solve low turnout if you don’t have interesting elections,” Secretary of State Bill Galvin, who oversees Massachusetts elections, tells the Globe. “If it’s an exciting election and it affects people, they will vote. But if it’s not, they’re not going to come out on a weekend or a weekday, if the only vote is for cemetery commissioner.”

That rings particularly true when it comes to state legislative races here, where so many lawmakers run unopposed. Massachusetts consistently ranks near the bottom when it comes to rankings of contested elections.

Low turnout seems much more a symptom of malaise in the political order than a cause of it.

–MICHAEL JONAS


 

BEACON HILL

Senate President Stan Rosenberg said changes in the Massachusetts’ universal health care law made to comply with the Affordable Care Act could render the state’s statute and budget vulnerable if the GOP repeal is signed into law. He also said hiking taxes is becoming increasingly likely. (Keller@Large)

A Herald editorial says Democrats need to embrace some belt-tightening moves as part of the effort to deal with the state’s budget troubles.

Sean Mulkerrin sees a false narrative in the opposition by business groups to the millionaire’s tax. (CommonWealth)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Braintree officials plan to have discussions on “future operations” of a Motel 6 near the MBTA station after a police officer was shot Friday night while trying to serve a warrant. The motel has a history of problems with drugs, prostitution, and other crimes dating to the 1970s. (Patriot Ledger)

Mayor Marty Walsh and Rev. Jeffrey Brown make the case for why Boston is made safer by police not working to aid Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials. (Boston Globe)

Ashland Town Meeting voters narrowly rejected using $5,000 from the community Preservation Fund to repair the stairs at the historic Federated Church, which is often used for community activities. (MetroWest Daily News)

The Fall River Redevelopment Authority rejected Mayor Jasiel Correia’s move to terminate the city’s contract with the privately funded Fall River Office of Economic Development in an ongoing feud between the mayor and the business group. (Herald News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

In his most political remarks since leaving office, former president Barack Obama, in Boston to receive the annual Profile in Courage award at the John F. Kennedy Library, called on Congress to stand up for the most vulnerable and defeat efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.

President Trump’s promise to build a wall along the Mexican border is running into a more formidable obstacle than the lack of funding — suits by property owners in Texas who refuse to let the federal government take their land to build the barrier. (New York Times)

The EPA dismisses at least five members of a scientific review board as part of a campaign by the Trump administration to bring more officials from regulated industries on to the boards. (New York Times)

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signs a sanctuary cities ban. (Time)

ELECTIONS

The global establishment breathed as centrist Emmanuel Macron wins the French presidential election by a wide margin over far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. (Washington Post) Macron’s election was more a matter of luck and rejecting the dark history of Le Pen’s National Front movement than any masterful political moves by the political novice. (New York Times) The Herald’s Adriana Cohen laments the loss by Le Pen, whose National Front party welcomed former Nazi collaborators when founded by her father.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

General Electric has moved quickly to stake a big role in Boston’s civic and philanthropic world. (Boston Globe) Using emails obtained through public records requests, MassLive looks back at how state and local officials convinced GE to move to Boston.

Larry Summers says we should make investments in education, infrastructure, and life sciences to keep Massachusetts competitive in the knowledge economy — and says he’s “sympathetic” to the idea of a new tax on high incomes to help do that. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Lawrence High School sharply reduces the size of its library to make room for an advanced program for high-achieving students. (Eagle-Tribune)

Lowell-area legislators are trying to fast-track a bill that would allow Lowell High School to move to a new site. (Lowell Sun)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The American Spectator highlights a Boston Globe opinion piece to debunk claims the Republican health care bill is motivated by race — and uses a photo of all white lawmakers to go with the piece.

Dr. Joseph Kvedar says in some cases it makes sense to let the machines take over. (CommonWealth)

Northampton’s Soldier On program offers an unorthodox approach to drug addiction issues facing veterans. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

LAZ Parking says it was surprised at a MBTA lawsuit seeking the recovery of stolen funds, saying it had been cooperating with the transit agency and accepted the need to pay its “share” of any lost funds. (CommonWealth)

One payment system is needed for all transportation services, says Boris Karsch, the VP for strategy at Cubic Transportation Systems. (CommonWealth)

Drivers who don’t have an E-ZPass are about to get hit with higher toll charges under state’s all-electronic tolling system. (Boston Herald)

Officials from the New Bedford Airport Commission will meet with the City Council for the first time in about two years to present a proposed partnership between the airport and Florida-based Elite Airlines to operate twice-weekly flights from the Whaling City to Melbourne, a city about 90 miles outside of Orlando. (Standard-Times)

CASINOS

Sean Murphy runs through the legal limbo facing the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe in its quest to open a casino in Taunton. (Boston Globe)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

President Trump will unveil a slate of 10 nominees from a lengthy list of conservative judges to begin filling 120 vacancies on lower courts in the federal system. (New York Times)

Police say they have not yet established a motive for the killing in their luxury South Boston apartment of two highly-regarded anesthesiologists on Friday night. (Boston Globe)

County houses of correction have seen twice as many inmate suicides since 2012 as the state prison system, despite having roughly equal numbers of prisons. (Boston Globe/The Eye)

A 13-year-old Plymouth middle school student was charged with distributing marijuana after he and four other students were sickened by pot-laced brownies he brought to the school and handed out. (Patriot Ledger)