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Voters support making voting process easier, poll finds

WASHINGTON—As Americans in several states vote Tuesday, a new nonprofit group is pushing to make the process easier.

Some 62 percent of Americans want Congress to achieve that as well, according to a poll released Monday by the group, Whytuesday.org. Some 57 percent favor casting votes over a 21-day period, and 56 percent support voting by mail.

Most voters, 74 percent, are content to keep voting on Tuesdays, however. That disappointed Whytuesday.org, which thinks that moving Election Day to weekends would produce higher turnout.

Congress selected the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November as Election Day in 1845. Lawmakers didn't want to interrupt religious ceremonies on weekends and saw Monday as a travel day in a still-rural America when courthouses could be far from home.

But modern voters are time-pressed on busy workdays, so voting on Tuesday seems archaic, said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who conducted the survey along with the Tarrance Group, a Republican firm.

"Elections really haven't kept up with the modern economy," Lake said.

Other notable poll results:

_52 percent of the 1,000 respondents believe the electoral process is fair, though less than one-third of blacks do.

_51 percent oppose making Election Day a national holiday.

Whytuesday.org is co-chaired by former Sen. Bill Bradley, D-N.J., and former Rep. Jack Kemp, R-N.Y. Former United Nations Ambassador and Rep. Andrew Young, D-Ga., is the group's honorary chairman. New York attorney William Wachtel founded the group.

The group hasn't begun advertising or lobbying Congress for new laws.

"This is a starting point, not an ending point," said Norman Ornstein, a political scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy-research center, who attended the group's presentation.

For more information, go to www.whytuesday.org.

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(The poll was of a representative sample of 1000 adults nationwide. Responses to this survey were gathered September 27-29, 2005 and October 1-2, 2005. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.)

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(c) 2005, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

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