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Why Do We Vote on Tuesday?

If you’ve ever wondered why we vote on a Tuesday, and have to juggle school, work, after school sports and such, this article over at The Christian Science Monitor claims to have the answer. Basically, there was so much elections fraud when states could vote whenever they wanted (“Political parties organized gangs of supporters to move from state to state to vote in close elections.“) Congress solved this by mandating a common election day. Why Tuesday? Here’s the story, according to the article:

For a society in which most people lived on farms, November was a good month to vote. The harvest was in, and snow hadn’t yet closed the roads. Why Tuesday? Records of lawmaker debate show that officials thought Sunday wouldn’t work, because many people were in church. Monday wouldn’t work, because most polling places were in county seats, and folks from outlying areas could not always get there in time.

Tuesday was the earliest day everybody could make it into town. So Tuesday it was. Congress similarly standardized congressional elections in 1872.

Perfectly logical in the late 1800s, but seems a little out of date now, post-industrial revolution. The article states that some groups are suggesting that we move to Saturday, since more people would have the day off. Others suggest that Sunday is the most popular election day across the world, so that should be the day. I don’t think many Christians would have a problem voting on Sunday, but some traditionalists might object to polling places requiring staff to work on Sunday. Orthodox Jews might also have an issue if voting is deemed to be “work” on the Sabbath. As long as the polling places are open after dark, this would be workable, but it would be odd to tell a religious group they have to vote between sundown and 8pm.

It should be interesting to see if this tradition is changed in the future … or if eventually some method of secure online voting replaces polling stations altogether! (That would not happen without a huge fight, I am sure.) Either way, my vote has been cast, and we shall see what the results hold for this year’s election.

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