LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WXOW) -- A La Crosse county board member is leading the latest effort to change federal election law.
Andrew Londre, the county board supervisor for La Crosse County's district nine, led the effort to submit a petition to the President and leaders of the House and Senate calling for presidential and congressional elections to take place on weekends.
Current election law, passed in 1845, mandates those elections take place on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.
The law was passed at a time when the U.S. economy was heavily reliant on agriculture. New sessions of congress would begin in December, after the farming season had concluded, so elections needed to take place beforehand.
Sunday, seen by many as a day of worship, was not considered as an option. Lawmakers felt Monday would be a travel day, allowing voters to commute to their designated polling places, and it was decided the election would be held on Tuesday.
But Londre said Tuesday elections are inconvenient in today's day and age.
"Tuesday's a day most Americans go to work," Londre said. "If you're a student, you're in class from the morning until the evening."
"What that does is create rush hours," he added. "People create long lines in the morning and after work when they get to the polls and for students in between classes."
Londre and 44 other members of the Young Elected Officials Action Network believe a weekend election, allotting voters a Saturday, Sunday or both days to vote, would both help eliminate the aforementioned rush hours and boost voter turnout.
But Dr. Tim Dale, a political scientist at the UW-La Crosse, said convincing both chambers of congress to change current election law will be a tough sell.
Dale said the proposal has been brought up by members of congress in the past, but added it has never gotten to the floor for a vote.
"You're working against tradition and you're working against incumbents who were elected on Tuesdays themselves and so they don't necessarily have a problem with election day," Dale said.
He added members of the House and Senate would need heavy pressure from their constituents to convince them that alterations to the current election dates are a good idea.
"People would need to contact their representatives and tell them it's something that they want," Dale said. "Representatives would also have to perceive that it will be something that will hurt them politically if they don't support it."
Londre said he's well aware it's not likely his petition will spur significant action among lawmakers.
He said merely bringing the idea into the public discourse, as well as promoting discussion about what he believes is a shortfall within our system of government, would constitute a victory.
"Nothing's getting through congress right now," he said. "So my hope is if we start having this conversation now, then maybe when Washington, D.C. is in a more productive mood, it can actually be dealt with," Londre said.
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