Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

Ever wonder why we vote on Tuesday? According to Newsday:

“In 1845, farmers needed time to travel – by horse and buggy – from the fields to the county seat to vote without interfering with the three-day Sabbath or Wednesday, which was market day. So, Congress chose Tuesday to make voting easier for citizens of an agrarian society.”

I had read that 1872 was the year that Congress exercised its authority to establish a uniform federal Election Day. Nevertheless, if it was 1845, that would mean that the first presidential election affected was in 1848, when General Zachary Taylor, a Whig who owned a plantation in Louisiana, was elected.

“In 1875, Congress extended the Tuesday date for national House elections and in 1914 for federal Senate elections.”

Prior to 1914, of course, U. S. senators were elected by the state legislatures. With the advent of primary elections, some states held preferential primaries for U. S. senator, and the legislatures rubber-stamped the results. This led to passage of the 17th Amendment, which provided for direct election of senators.

Congress set the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November in even-numbered years as federal Election Day, so that federal elections never fall on the first day of the month. My understanding is that November was chosen because the farmers had harvested their crops by then.

Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York) has introduced a bill in Congress to change Election Day from Tuesday to weekends. This Politico article features a video of Israel asking various people why Tuesday is Election Day. Only a few answered correctly.

In his 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns, Ross Perot advocated changing voting days to Saturday and Sunday.

Louisiana has for years held elections on Saturday, and I believe Texas does too. This year, for example, Louisiana will hold its party primaries for Congress on Saturday, September 6, with the runoff primaries four weeks later, on October 4.

A number of other democracies, including France, hold their elections on Sunday.

Some states– Louisiana, Texas, and Tennessee among them– allow “early voting” in advance of Election Day. Oregon uses vote-by-mail for all of its elections, as do almost all localities in Washington state.

Dick Morris, the former political consultant and Fox News commentator, has predicted that Americans will all eventually use their computers to vote.

Personally, I believe that the right to vote is sacred, and the easier and more convenient voting is made, the less it is valued and appreciated.

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