The fact that France isholding the final round of its presidential election today -- Sunday -- got meto thinking. Would it be worth experimenting with that here in Illinois?
Certainly, somemight object to voting on the Christian Sabbath, regarded as a Day of Rest. ButI see nothing sacred about voting on Tuesday. It's been the assigned day sincebefore Illinoisofficially became a state in 1818. Now,there was a time when it seemed to work pretty well. As recently as the 1940s, during World WarTwo, more than 90 percent of registered voters here cast ballots. Since then, participation's plummeted,particularly in primaries.
Six weeks ago, voter turnout here in Chicago in the March 20thprimary was 24.45 percent. We certainlycouldn't blame wintry weather, as we sometimes do. March 20th, you may recall, was a beautifulsummer like day.
Now, voterturnout's also been gradually declining in Western Europe,but the numbers there remain far above the abysmal turnout. 76% in France for the lower house of the nationalassembly vs. America'sabysmal 48% average in comparable contests for congress.
So, why not experimentwith voting on Sunday?
It'salso worth noting that in Franceeveryone is automatically registered to vote on their 18th birthday. To cast a ballot, just show up.