One of America’s really bad habits is the idea that we have “traditions.” Most nations in our income bracket have a history thousands of years long. But we sort of arbitrarily stick to traditions that have only been a bad idea for about a hundred years. Like voting on a Tuesday.
Yes, we chose November because of our agrarian roots. Spring planting, fall Harvest, collect dat fat corn silo check, then you have time to vote. But in the 1840s you had to get your pre-automobile ass to the County seat to vote.
Voting should reflect our way of life. Currently one-third of all votes are “early votes” in states that offer it. Why isn’t Election Day a national holiday?
It gets complicated from there. In 1845 the First Tuesday after the First Monday in November was established as Election Day. Congress swiftly adopted this date for House elections. In 1875. In 1914 we added the Senate. But why the first Tuesday after the first Monday? There were three considerations:
Religion: Sundays were not an option because of Church. This is so we don’t accidentally vote on All Saints Day, November 1st. We barely recognize All Saints Day, but we get really into All Hallow’s Eve, a.k.a. Halloween. Which, given how we currently, maturely celebrate Halloween, would make for the best morning-after-Halloween ballot selfies.
Business: Most merchants—like freelance writers who keep telling their editor they’ll get better at this—do their bookkeeping on the first of the month.
Economic: Members of Congress were worried that this month-end bookkeeping would sway votes due to the success or failure of that month. (Yes, the economy continues to be the biggest variable in elections.)
Voting should reflect our way of life. Currently one-third of all votes are “early votes” in states that offer it. Why isn’t Election Day a national holiday? Is used to be, which caused Nixon to go on a Tijuana pub crawl when his own election closed all the bars.
Is this dumb? Yes. Is it really “tradition?” No. Can we change it? Yes! Weekend voting is a movement. Just speak with your congressperson.
But first we have to vote for them.